• Twenty Questions to Ask When Selecting a Divorce Attorney
  • September 6, 2013 | Author: Sam M. (Trey) Yates
  • Law Firm: Law Office of Sam M. (Trey) Yates, III, P.C. - Houston Office
  • If you are considering divorce, knowing the right questions to ask a prospective attorney is vital. Remember, the attorney you chose for this journey can have a profound effect on you and your family long after the litigation is over. A general rule of thumb is to interview at least three attorneys before selecting one.

    When choosing legal counsel for a divorce or child custody issue, it is best to select a Board Certified Family Law specialist who is comfortable both in the courtroom and at the negotiating table working out your settlement.

    Look for an attorney who can explain divorce law and the process of divorce to you in clear terms without using a lot of jargon or words you don't understand.

    He or she should be well acquainted with the family code statutes in the state where your case will proceed. Being familiar with how divorce cases are handled in the county where your suit is filed is also important. A good divorce attorney should also know how your particular judge has ruled on issues similar to yours in past cases.

    Here are 20 questions to ask when interviewing prospective divorce attorneys:

    1. Do you have any special training or certification in family law and divorce that distinguishes you as a "divorce specialist?"
    2. How many years have you been handling divorce and family law cases?
    3. How many years have you been practicing in this state?
    4. Do you have courtroom experience?
    5. How many of your cases went to trial last year?
    6. Do you regularly work with experts outside of your firm if a case requires it? (e.g. accountants, private investigators, counselors)
    7. What is your preferred strategy or "philosophy" for handling a divorce case?
    8. Do you recommend mediation to your clients? In what circumstances?
    9. Are you trained in mediation and/or collaborative law?
    10. Do you encourage or discourage direct contact between spouses during divorce?
    11. How long do you think my divorce will take?
    12. Based on what you know about my case, how would you predict a judge would rule on it? Besides yourself, what other people in your firm would work on my case? (e.g. paralegals, associate attorneys)
    13. Will you be the person responsible for negotiating my divorce case?
    14. Who will I meet and talk with most often during my divorce -- you or your assistant(s)?
    15. Will I be able to contact you directly? What is your preferred method of communication -- phone, email, face-to-face, etc.?
    16. What are your fees per hour?
    17. How much is your retainer and how do you bill me for work performed on my case?
    18. In what counties do you normally practice and how often?
    19. Are there any new changes to the law that could affect the outcome of my case?
    20. About how many divorces do you handle each year?

    Many variables can influence the outcome, success and cost of a divorce. Be candid with the attorneys you interview. The consultation is confidential, so talk about the "bad facts" of your personal situation as well as "the good facts."

    The answers your prospective attorney provides to these questions should paint a clear picture of how he or she plans to approach your divorce, and whether or not you believe this approach will be a good fit for you.