Divorce Attorney Consultation Questions

By Christine Funk, J.D.

Divorce Attorney Consultation Questions

By Christine Funk, J.D.

When considering a divorce, it is a good idea to take some time shopping for an attorney who specializes in family law. Different attorneys have different philosophies and methods. For example, some attorneys have a scorched earth policy when it comes to cases that involve dissolution of a marriage. Others believe coming to a collaborative resolution is in the parties' best interests. With regard to these matters, it's a good idea to find an attorney who has a philosophy similar to yours.

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When shopping for an attorney that is right for you, ask questions with answers that will give you an idea of their philosophy and goals.

What's Your Divorce Philosophy?

If an attorney tells you they believe in litigating every issue to the fullest extent, consider yourself warned. Although you may like the idea of making your spouse squirm at court appearance after court appearance, litigating down to the last candlestick costs a great deal of money. Even in the most painful separations, most couples can agree on some things.

Instead, look for an attorney who crafts their approach to the divorce based on your individual needs and desires, rather than with a blanket policy. Many attorneys are mindful of the benefits of mediation. Not every separation needs to be a declaration of war. Collaborative law has become more popular across the United States. Many adults find they can speak cordially about property division and their children's future, keeping their best interests in mind.

What's Your Fee Structure?

It's important for divorce clients to understand an attorney's fee structure. How much do they require up front? Do they take payment plans? Because most attorneys charge by the hour, how you choose to interact with your lawyer has an impact on their fee. Once you understand that they charge you by the minute, you may consider waiting until you have a series of questions to ask your attorney, rather than calling every time a thought pops into your head.

Attorneys generally have paralegals and case managers. These team members generally charge a lesser rate for their time. Clarify how the attorney charges clients and how often they bill clients.

How Long Will This Take?

Of course, every divorce is different. Some wrap up after a quick agreement between the parties, but other cases involve years of litigation. However, many states have statutorily imposed waiting times. Typically, these wait times are between six months and a year. Understanding legally imposed delays can help you manage expectations.

Can You Explain Child Support and Alimony in Our State?

Child support and alimony are both financial obligations, but different rules apply. In every state, parents support their children. In some states, a court might order one spouse to pay alimony to the other spouse. Understanding how courts determine payment obligations can also help manage expectations.

Other Pressing Issues

In some cases, a person is desperate to keep the family home. In other cases, a person only wants to keep the wedding china, the tools, or the gun collection. Because every divorce is different, it is critical to bear in mind that potential attorneys don't know your specific concerns unless you voice them. You may rest assured that it is highly unlikely that your situation is unique.

Lawyers typically handle dozens of separation cases at a time. If you have a particular concern or question, ask. Being transparent about your issues can give you peace of mind. No one should have to attempt a divorce on their own.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.