Eleven Important Questions to Ask Your Divorce and Family Law Attorney

Eleven Important Questions to Ask Your Divorce and Family Law Attorney

1. What type of divorce should I file?

Georgia law allows you to file for divorce under a no fault clause, meaning that you are seeking separation due to irreconcilable differences. You can also choose between filing an uncontested and contested case. Your lawyer will be able to help you decide which type of case will work best contingent upon your description of the circumstances.

2. Are my goals achievable?

This is an important question you should not neglect to ask; sometimes you could be so adamantly set on pursuing a certain set of goals that you forget that they are unrealistic. This will lead to higher fees, more stress and a dragged out process. Talking to your attorney about what goals are realistic and achievable will help you gain perspective on your case and make a plan that you can count on.

3. What is worth fighting for and what is worth letting go?

Consistent with the last point, you should know what is worth salvaging and fighting over. While this is also a matter that will be personal to you, your attorney can help guide you in deciding the value of certain assets and the costs in fighting to keep them. Spending dollars fighting for pennies is never a good idea, and asking your attorney to help keep you on track always is.

4. How can we get this over with easiest and quickest?

Your lawyer will be best qualified to give you a general idea of what you can expect as well as what you can do to make the process easiest and quickest. Of course, this also depends on your spouse and their attorney, but informing your lawyer that you would like the process to be swift and painless will usually help them to evaluate and argue the case in a way conducive to your wishes.

5. How do you bill?

Before you sign an agreement with your attorney, make sure that you know in what way they will charge you. Some attorneys have a flat fee system, but most of the more experienced attorneys ask for a retainer and charge an hourly rate. Ask what they will be doing with the time they devote to you and make sure you have a payment plan in writing before you hire them.

6. Is there anything I can do to keep the costs of my divorce down?

Sometimes, talking to your spouse on the side is a good idea and sometimes it is not. The same goes for mediation efforts. Depending on your case, you may be able to keep the costs of your divorce down if you can negotiate with your spouse in some way without using court. In certain cases, however, this could drag out the process even more and thus incur additional costs. That being said, an uncontested case from start to finish will always cost less – both financially and emotionally – than a contested one. If you can agree with your spouse on the issues of your divorce and file uncontested, it will most likely be the best option.

7. Is litigation or mediation better for my case?

For certain cases, mediation may just do the trick in helping a couple settle their differences outside of court. Other times, mediation is a court-mandated process before the case can be heard. Still, Alternative Conflict Resolution methods can work for some cases and not for others. Your attorney will be best able to gauge what will work best based on the specifics of the case and your desired outcome.

8. Based on what you know about my case, how would you predict a judge would rule on it?

While all cases are unique and there are certainly no guarantees, it is helpful to ask your lawyer about where they think your case stands. Remember that if you have chosen a good lawyer, they will likely have plenty of experience with family law cases and will be able to place your case within a framework of past cases. In fact, they will have to do so in order to decide how best to proceed. Within this context, they will most likely be able to tell you what they think the likely outcome is and what is realistic to expect.

9. What can you do to help me understand the effects of the decisions I will have to make?

The ramifications of your decision to obtain a divorce will be felt in all areas of your life, and your lawyer will be able to provide you with information about most of that. If there is something you need help with beyond the realm of their ability, they will be able to connect you with other professionals such as accountants, financial forensics, psychiatrists and child care professionals.

10. Will anyone else in your office be working on my case? What experience do they have? Can I meet them?

Sometimes other attorneys in the office work on aspects of your case. This can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on the office and why the work is being passed around. Be sure to ask whether anyone else will work on your case, why and when that would happen, what their rate is and what their education/experience is. If you do not want this to happen, ask for a note to be put into the attorney-client agreement.

11. Are there any questions I have neglected to ask and/or is there anything else I should be aware of at this point?

Being well informed is a key aspect of having a successful divorce. While you should certainly trust your lawyer, staying ahead of the situation can only benefit you. Asking this question will tell your legal team you want to be as involved and knowledgeable about the process as possible and that they should thus keep you clued in at all times.

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