If you’re going through a divorce, your head is probably a mess. It may feel like your whole world is collapsing around you. Now you have to find a divorce lawyer – a seemingly insurmountable task. How do you even know where to begin?
In this article, we break it down for you. Below are three core elements to understand before signing up with any divorce attorney:
It’s important to have a clear idea of charges upfront. Lawyers use different methods of charging for their services. Some charge by the hour for certain services and use a flat rate for others. In addition, there may be a separate hourly rate for time you spend with other lawyers, paralegals or secretaries at the firm. Find out what these rates are. It’s also standard for a divorce lawyer to require a retainer deposit – a sum of money that you put down from the start (similar to earnest money when buying a house). It’s worthwhile to find out how much the retainer is. Finally, ask your lawyer to give you an estimate of what the total cost of the divorce will be.
It’s a good idea to find out how easy it will be to reach your lawyer. Is your lawyer available by phone, text and email? How quickly will they respond to these mediums? It’s also wise to get an understanding of the lawyer’s client load at any given time – to better assess how much they’ll be able to dedicate themselves to your case.
Divorce is unfamiliar territory for most of us. You need someone who can give you expert advice on the implications of any decisions you make. For example, certain decisions you make during your divorce may have a significant effect on your taxes. Also, pursuing alternative paths – such as negotiating directly with your ex-spouse or carrying out certain divorce-related tasks yourself – may enable you to keep your costs down. Your lawyer should be helpful and transparent with such matters.
No divorce is easy, but the right divorce attorney should endeavor to lighten your burden. Before making such a critical selection, it pays to ask questions ahead of time.