How To Choose A Divorce Lawyer
So you need to choose a divorce lawyer, but don’t know how to get started. Before you hire the first lawyer listed in the yellow pages, take some time to figure out what you want from an attorney and how you want your case to be handled.
Advice to Help You Decide on a Divorce Lawyer
It can feel intimidating to talk to a lawyer. I’ve learned the hard way that if your lawyer can’t explain things to you as if you are a smart 14-year-old, you should find a lawyer who can. A lawyer is supposed to make your life easier, not more stressful.
Your first step in your quest to choose a divorce lawyer is to ask your family, friends or acquaintances. Ask why they like him or her and what the lawyer did for them. If you’re consulting a lawyer about a divorce or estate planning, it’s important that he/she has experience in these areas of expertise.
Credentials count, but this is about more than education and experience. The law is complicated enough; you need someone who can explain things to you in addition to being qualified to advise you.
In the event of divorce, you will be working closely with the lawyer. You want things explained clearly to you because you’ll be emotionally upset. A lawyer’s jargon and lack of ability to communicate clearly will upset you even more.
Before you choose a divorce lawyer, phone the office to ask if the lawyer will give you an introductory meeting at no cost. This allows you both to get a sense of whether you can work well together.
For example, I couldn’t work with a lawyer who is patronizing. I need someone to give me information, explain all the options, show me the pitfalls, and outline the costs. Many lawyers think that reassuring and protecting a woman is doing her a favor. I call that the ‘Don’t worry about a thing, dear’ attitude that keeps women from being able to make decisions. On the other hand, many women just want their lawyer to take care of everything. I’m not one of them.
How to Interview a Divorce Lawyer: The Right Questions to Ask
Filing for divorce or being served with divorce papers is perhaps one of the most daunting experiences spouses can ever go through. For the average person, this is usually a very confusing and troubling moment as they suddenly find themselves in unknown territory with no idea on how to proceed. While some may immediately get recommendations from friends and family on what to do next, the case is usually very different for others. Whatever end of this table you find yourself at, one thing is certain: you need a divorce lawyer.
Hiring a divorce lawyer comes with its own complications and requires a great deal of care and meticulousness from all parties involved. A great deal of your personal life and space will be shared so it’s vital that you make the right decisions from the onset. Although this may not always be a straightforward process, preparing well in advance should ideally help you make well informed decisions, especially as it relates to hiring the right lawyer for the job.
when you’re preparing to take that all important step of interviewing a divorce lawyer.
1. Get Recommendations
This should ideally be one of the first moves you make as you search for a lawyer to represent you. Get in touch with a family member or friend who has gone through a divorce and speak with them to ascertain whether their lawyer or even their spouse’s may be right for you. While this is a great starting point, it’s even more important to get a personal feel of a potential lawyer via an interview, so don’t think you’re finished just because your friend loved her lawyer. What works great for someone may not work for you, and vice versa.
2. Do your investigation
Once you’ve narrowed down your list of potential divorce lawyers to hire, you’ll need to carry out a personal investigation about them and eventually carry out an initial consultation. Look them up online and find out as much as you can before putting a call across to them. When you eventually call the lawyer, try to observe their approach towards you. Do they listen? Are they in a hurry to offer you solutions or do they take their time to hear you out? If you’re satisfied with how the initial consultation went, you may go ahead and book a date for the interview or face to face discussions.
3. Prepare yourself for the interview
You should ideally prepare all relevant information pertaining to your divorce proceedings before meeting with any potential lawyer. Details regarding your personal assets, possible custody arrangements, and any other information you consider important should be readily available during the consultation. This information will enable the divorce lawyer to make informed decisions when providing you with advice. You do not necessarily need to provide copies of documents at this stage unless you decide to retain the lawyer.
4. Be Open
Hiding any critical information regarding your divorce may hinder the lawyer’s ability to critically assess your situation and offer the appropriate advice. At this point, be honest and open during the consultation. Share all the key details surrounding the divorce even if you do not feel they are relevant. You may have to reveal intimate and personal details regarding your relationship with your spouse but do not worry as this is perfectly normal and appropriate.
Informing the lawyer about any information that could potentially harm your divorce case in court puts them in a better position to advise and represent you. It’s worth noting that whatever discussions you have with the Lawyer even during consultation are confidential so ensure you provide complete and accurate information.
5. Consider the Fees
During the consultation, find out what fees you will be expected to pay for their service. Is there a fixed price or hourly price for representation? Is there a minimum charge if they bill you hourly? These are some of the questions you should ask regarding what you’ll be expected to pay. You should also find out about a breakdown of what exactly you’ll be charged for to avoid any surprises.
The Most Important Questions To Ask A Divorce Attorney
Selecting a divorce attorney can seem intimidating, overwhelming or even confusing. Preparing yourself before your initial consultation can not only help alleviate these feelings, but can assist you in reviewing and determining which divorce attorney is right for you. The following questions are suggested:
Questions To Ask Your Divorce Attorney
- How do you work with clients and what is your overall style or method to handling divorce?
- Will you be handling my case yourself? Or will another attorney in your office handle it? If another attorney, ask to speak to that person directly.
- How much experience do you have handling divorces like mine?
- Can you give me an overview of the steps we’ll need to take to proceed with my divorce?
- How long will the divorce process take?
Questions About Experience
The issues that need to be addressed in your divorce are ones that will affect you and your family for years to come. When asking your divorce interview questions, it is important to learn whether your family law attorney has the experience necessary to advise you correctly.
Questions to ask your divorce attorney might include:
- What proportion of your cases involve family law?
- How long have you been practicing family law?
- How many family cases have you handled?
- How much of my case will be handled by other attorneys or staff and what is their experience?
I’ve Been Living With My Partner For Two Years. Does That Mean I’m Entitled To Half Of The Property Pool?
Not necessarily. Two years is more of a “rule of thumb” rather than a rule of law. According to the section 2F of Acts Interpretation Act, when considering whether an unmarried couple is in a de-facto relationship.
Various factors are considered, such as:
- The duration of the relationship;
- The nature and extent of their common residence;
- Whether a sexual relationship exists;
- The degree of financial dependence or interdependence, and any arrangements for financial support, between them;
- The ownership, use and acquisition of their property;
- The degree of mutual commitment to a shared life;
- The care and support of children; and
- The reputation and public aspects of the relationship.
Therefore, a relationship is ‘de facto’ if, on balance, enough of these indicators are present. The balance of indicators should show that there is a relationship of significant commitment.