Divorce Consultation Checklist: What to Ask Your Attorney

Divorce Consultation Checklist: What to Ask Your Attorney

You and your spouse have decided to end your marriage. What happens now? While some people choose to file for divorce on their own, without legal help, it is generally not advisable. While there are many resources online to help you file a DIY divorce, you are likely to run into trouble without hiring a family law attorney to guide you through the process.

A divorce is not easy for the average person to navigate on his or her own. It is actually a lawsuit, and as such, the process can be complicated. There are forms to fill out and various deadlines to be met. One wrong move can negatively impact the outcome of a divorce. A person may lose out on assets he or she was entitled to receive, which can impact a person’s financial future.

The preferred course of action is to hire a family law attorney. A family law attorney knows the ins and outs of the divorce process and can help you with any issues you may face along the way. An attorney can help you communicate with your spouse and help reach a resolution on important issues so that the divorce can move along quickly. A good lawyer can also help you meet your goals. Are you looking to get custody of the children? Do you want a specific asset? Your lawyer is on your side and will help you reach a favorable outcome.

A search online or in a phone book can yield dozens of family law attorneys. How do you choose the right one? Is there a specific process you should go through? What qualifications should you look for?

The best thing you can do is research. Take the time to choose several lawyers who fit your criteria. Perhaps they have many years of experience or have won awards. Maybe they were recommended by a friend or family member. You might want to choose someone who is close to where you live or work.

Once you have chosen a few layers, schedule some consultations. Come prepared with a list of questions — but what should you ask a lawyer?

You should have an idea of what to expect once the consultation ends. The following are some possible topics you should ask about now so you are not in for any surprises down the road.


Divorce lawyers wors based on a particular fee structure. They often require payment along the way, before the divorce is finalized. Some charge monthly retainer fees. How often do they expect to be paid and how do they bill? For example, will you have to pay a certain amount every month? Do they charge by the hour? Make sure you understand the fee structure ahead of time, since a divorce can take a long time.


Your lawyer should be able to help you understand what to expect. This is important if you have a job and/or children that take up your time. Ask about the procedures and see if you can get an estimate of how long the divorce process will take. While nothing is set in stone, there is a difference between three months and one year.


While obviously a lawyer who has more experience will probably get you better results, many younger lawyers are highly skilled and knowledgeable, as well. They should have experience settling cases and taking them to court if needed. They should also be knowledgeable about alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation and arbitration.

Methods for Resolving Cases

Each attorney has his or her own preference. Some prefer to settle cases as quickly as possible, while others are willing to negotiate and take the case to court if necessary. Your best bet is to choose someone who is open to exploring various methods to resolve your case in the way you want it to be resolved. Mediation should be an option. A lawyer should not be afraid to go to court. While a lawyer should focus on settling, he or she should be prepared for the possibility of litigation. If your lawyer is too quick to settle, you could miss out on assets and not get the outcome you desire.


Communication is important between attorneys and clients. A good lawyer will offer multiple ways for you to communicate with them and their staff, such as by calling, texting, or emailing. Some are even available 24/7. You should be able to ask a question or get a status update without having to wait days for a reply. In fact, some state bar associations require that lawyers regularly communicate with clients. Ask about what happens when your lawyer is ill, out of town, or otherwise unable to respond to your inquiries. There should be someone always available to answer your questions.

Seek Legal Help

Choosing a divorce lawyer is not an easy task. Do not feel obligated to pick the first one you meet. You may be working with this lawyer for many months or even years, so it is important to find someone you can trust and with whom you feel comfortable. In the end, when choosing a lawyer, do not be afraid to trust your gut.

Palm Beach divorce attorney Scott J. Stadler can help you with your divorce. He has more than 30 years of trial experience and has significant experience with mediations. He is knowledgeable of all areas of family law. Learn more about how he can help you get the results you desire. Call his office at (954) 346-6464 to schedule a consultation.