Over the next couple of weeks, my blog will focus on the questions you should ask your divorce lawyer BEFORE you hire them. My hope is to inform those clients that have never hired an attorney before or have been unhappy in the past. If you are planning to file for divorce, or if you have been served with divorce paperwork, your first instinct is probably to hire an attorney. For most litigants, that search begins with a consultation or inquiry appointment with an attorney in the area. Before you hire your divorce attorney, make sure you have all of your questions answered. Most importantly, be sure that your attorney is someone you feel comfortable with. Choosing a divorce attorney is a very personal decision and not every attorney works for every client. If you have never visited with a divorce lawyer before, here are some questions that may help you get the ball rolling.
QUESTION 1: DO I REALLY NEED A LAWYER?
The reality is, everyone can benefit from having a divorce lawyer see them through the entire divorce process. It is wonderful to have someone you can call at any time with questions and concerns. However, not everyone can afford to have a lawyer represent them throughout the divorce process and their may be ways you can protect your interests without spending thousands on an attorney. Any divorce attorney you meet with should be willing to have an honest discussion with you about your options for legal representation.
For example, I have many clients that are representing themselves in their divorce case, but that periodically set up an appointment to review forms they have completed or ask specific legal questions. If you end up with this kind of arrangement, be sure you and your attorney carefully and clearly define your relationship in writing. There should be no confusion about what your attorney is and is not doing for you. If you are unclear, ASK! I also have clients that have decided to file for divorce pro se (as an unrepresented litigant) and then asked me to jump into their case part of the way through. Often times, the first few documents necessary in a divorce case can be easily acquired online – though be sure you ask your attorney where you can acquire accurate and appropriate forms. A word of warning: representing yourself does not work for everyone and you do not want to make mistakes that are difficult to repair. Speak to an attorney before you try to do it yourself and, most importantly, take their advice seriously. If you are uncomfortable with the advice you are given, shop around for a second opinion.
Watch for Parts II – IV of this series on questions to ask your divorce lawyer.