Guest Author - Caroline Henrich
Choosing a lawyer for your divorce is an important decision. Emotions are most likely elevated and sometimes it can be difficult to remember that you are making a business decision. This person will be your representative before the court and negotiate with your spouse's attorney. Blindly choosing a person from a phone book is not the way to choose an attorney.
Here are some suggested questions when interviewing a prospective lawyer:
1. Ensure you ask if there is an initial meeting fee when making an appointment. You will need to ask yourself if this is something you can afford.
Questions to ask at the initial meeting
2. How long does it take you to return phone calls?
3. How much work will you handle and how much will be done by associates or paralegals?
4. Can you advise me regarding the state child support guidelines?
5. What is your hourly rate and what is the hourly rate of your associates?
6. Do you require a retainer? If so how much and when will it need to be replenished?
7. Do I need to catalog all of the marital belongings to make a record?
8. How do I protect monies in bank accounts to make sure my spouse does not raid the bank accounts?
9. What is your advice regarding child visitation? Until an agreement is entered by the court, how should I handle initial exchanges?
10. Can you tell me about your courtroom style - aggressive, passive and how you will match up against my spouse's counsel? Who are the judges who could get my case and what can I expect?
There are numerous other questions that could be asked and you should prepare a list before going to the initial meeting. You may also want to start to collect necessary documents and e-mails. The lawyer will not look at them during the initial meeting, but you can let him or her know you are proactive and prepared to assist. If it appears the divorce will be difficult, it could be necessary to conduct all communication in writing to ensure there is no dispute as to the facts. Good luck finding a honest, ethical, cost efficient lawyer who will support you and protect your legal interests.