Navigating the complexities of divorce can be challenging and stressful. Choosing the right attorney is one of the most important steps you can take to ensure that your divorce is settled amicably and your best interests are appropriately addressed. By asking the right questions, you can better understand what you need from your attorney and whether their approach to divorce makes them a good fit for you. In this blog, we explore some questions you should ask yourself as well as your attorney to help you make informed decisions that will shape the outcome of your divorce and your future.
What Are Your Goals for Your Divorce? What Are You Hoping to Achieve on The Other Side of Your Marriage?
These first questions are for you to answer. It is crucial to understand your goals and desires for the divorce process as well as the outcome. This includes understanding what kind of divorce you want, the desired relationship with your spouse during and after the divorce, and the impact you want (or don’t want) the divorce to have on your children. While you may harbor negative feelings toward your soon-to-be ex, pursuing the path of mediation or collaborative divorce can often result in the least stressful and lowest-conflict situation for your children and families. Once you know the answers to these questions, you’ll want to ensure that the attorney’s goals align with yours, especially if you seek an amicable divorce or low-conflict resolution.
What is Your Communication Style?
Understand how you would prefer to communicate with your attorney and confirm that they will accommodate what you need. What are your preferred communication methods? Do you prefer email, video calls, phone calls, or texts? Consider whether you have any specific time constraints for communication. If you require quicker responses or prefer certain methods of communication, asking this question will help you understand whether the attorney’s communication style and responsiveness will be a good fit for you.
Do You Focus Exclusively on Divorce Law?
Ensure that divorce and family law are the attorney’s primary focus. Your attorney should be well-versed in the specific laws of your state or jurisdiction. Don’t rely on the guidance of an attorney you know or are related to if they don’t regularly handle divorces. You want to work with someone who handles divorce matters in your state daily, as divorce laws can vary drastically and change regularly between states.
Do You Work Alone, or Is There a Team That Will Assist Me?
Inquire how the law firm handles divorce cases. Will the attorney be handling all the work (from gathering financial information to drafting documents to negotiating your agreement)? Or will other attorneys, paralegals, or staff members be able to assist on your matter by answering your questions or gathering information from you that is needed? It can keep costs down and speed your process up if you aren’t reliant on working with a single attorney at their higher hourly rate and waiting for them to get back to you on a simple question.
Do You Regularly Include or Refer Clients to Other Professionals?
You should also ask if the attorney will refer you to experts or involve them in your divorce proceedings to provide comprehensive support, such as financial experts, family coaches, or therapists. This will save you money and ensure that you receive the necessary assistance at a lower hourly rate than the attorney is charging. You’ll find peace of mind knowing that your attorney is not going to bill you for unnecessary work that is out of their wheelhouse.
What Is Your Billing Process?
Discuss the attorney’s billing process to understand how and when they charge for their time and their staff’s time and what fees you can expect. It’s likely they will not be able to tell you what your total cost will be (due to the many variables that can arise). However, transparency regarding how fees will be billed will help you have a better understanding of the financial costs you can expect to incur in your divorce.
What Divorce Process Will Best Meet My Needs?
Your attorney should discuss with you various divorce options and help you find the process that best suits your situation and long-term goals. Divorce rarely needs to be handled through costly litigation. If you want a process that takes the unique aspects of your marriage and family into consideration and reduces conflict and stress for you, your soon-to-be ex, and your children and families, your attorney should inform you about the pros and cons of mediation and the collaborative divorce process so that you can make the best decision for you and your family.
Additional Questions to Ask if You are Interested in Non-Adversarial Divorce
If you are specifically seeking an attorney who is settlement-oriented and won’t push your case into the court system, here are two additional questions you should ask:
How Concerned Are You About Whether My Spouse Gets What They Want Out of This Divorce?
Understanding an attorney’s perspective on this issue is essential. A non-adversarial divorce aims to address each party’s goals, even if they differ. The attorney should demonstrate an understanding of this difference and emphasize the importance of meeting both parties’ goals. While you may be certain that you don’t want to budge on some things, being able to compromise and agree on solutions that fairly consider the interests of all parties involved may ultimately be better for your family dynamic on the other side of your divorce, as well as your wallet.
Do You Believe That People in Conflict Can Negotiate Without Using Threats or Coercion?
A settlement-oriented attorney should acknowledge that negotiations can occur without drawing lines in the sand or resorting to threats. They should explain the difference between positions and interests, encouraging clients to focus on interests to reach mutually beneficial outcomes. Maintaining a position is insisting on a specific outcome. That’s the “line in the sand.” Negotiating with interests in mind is being open to different outcomes that can meet that underlying interest. Non-adversarial lawyers encourage their clients to articulate their interests rather than take positions. This opens more options and often clears a path to an outcome that can meet both parties’ individual goals.
How Vacca Family Law Group Can Help
By asking these questions, you can gain a deeper understanding of your attorney’s approach to divorce and determine if they align with your goals and preferences. If you are seeking an amicable divorce, settlement-oriented approach, and low-conflict resolution, these questions will help you make informed decisions about which divorce attorney to choose.
Vacca Family Law Group specializes in non-adversarial divorce and family law and is dedicated to helping you navigate your divorce to find the best solution for your unique situation. Contact Vacca Family Law Group today for your free introductory call.