You already know that searching for a qualified divorce attorney means getting referrals, checking references, and verifying qualifications, but when it comes to the long run, how can you be sure that you've found the ideal fit for your unique situation? Bringing up questions that go beyond the basics during your consultation can help you determine whether you're sitting across from your perfect legal match. Here are some lesser-known questions to put on your list of things to ask:
1. How Many Complex Divorce Cases Have You Handled and What Were Their Outcomes?
Attorneys who aren't afraid to take on challenging caseloads tend to be experienced, confident, and passionate about their work. What exactly constitutes a complex case? Informal separation agreements, home equity loans, infidelity, shared tax liabilities, undisclosed investments, and mental illness or addiction are a few common hallmarks of difficult divorces.
2. Do You Practice and Advocate Collaborative Law?
In a collaborative divorce, spouses and their attorneys work together through amicable cooperation rather than litigation.
Before discussions begin, both attorneys make a pledge to share all relevant information willingly, avoid exploiting each other's mistakes and try to minimize expenses. Because they agree to withdraw from the case if no consensus can be reached, neither side has any incentive to pursue litigation. The overriding goal is to avoid the costly and time-consuming court process of divorce.
3. What Is Your Preferred Work Style?
No two attorneys handle divorce the same way. Some may heavily favor compromise while others prefer to take a firm stance from the start. Neither way is wrong, but one approach may work better in your case than another. For a clearer picture of the type of attorney you are considering hiring, ask for a ratio of cases the attorney settles to those he or she takes to court.
4. Can I Meet Your Team?
It's very important that you feel comfortable with every member of your attorney's team and that you can reach any of them directly when necessary. Since individual law firms operate differently, you also want to find out whether the charges you are quoted will cover the work of the attorney's associates.
Keep in mind that there's no such thing as too many questions. Attorneys prefer to take on cases that match their experience and background, so they appreciate clients who are proactive about sharing and getting information. After all, you're not just looking for an attorney: you're hiring someone who will be your legal partner and staunchest supporter for an indeterminate number of months, so in the end you need to be confident about your decision about who you hire.