If you or your spouse has decided to file for divorce, you are likely scared and anxious. If you have never been divorced before, you are likely unsure about the process. You may have a lot of questions, and that is OK. The law can be complex when it comes to the various elements of divorce, so it is understandable if you are feeling lost and confused.
One of the first steps in a divorce case is to hire a lawyer. Sure, there are many resources online if you want to try the DIY approach, but having the assistance of a divorce lawyer—someone who knows the law and has a sufficient amount of experience under their belt—can be extremely helpful. After all, each divorce is different. There are different elements involved, such as various types of assets, debts, and children.
Therefore, you need the right lawyer to handle your case. So how do you find the right person? You have to ask the right questions. Here are some questions to ask before making a hiring decision.
What is your experience handling divorce cases?
Obviously, you want to choose a lawyer who has been there, done that. They should have at least several years of experience handling a range of divorce cases. You should not have to worry about whether or not your lawyer is doing everything correctly. You are paying them big money to do things right. Plus, you have enough to worry about.
What percentage of your cases are settled outside of court?
The best case scenario is to settle your divorce outside of court. If your lawyer is talented enough to be able to settle divorce cases without the courtroom drama, then that bodes well for your case. Your lawyer should be able to help you and your spouse reach a compromise so you can avoid the drama and added expenses of litigation. They should be able to offer collaborative divorce and other types of settlement solutions.
How much do you charge and what does that include?
You will want to ask this right away because you might really like a lawyer but not be able to afford their services. Expect to pay at least $200 an hour. Plus, you may have to pay other fees, such as for communication, preparing certain documentation, and making copies. You will want to know what is and what is not included so you can keep costs down.
Are you familiar with the local judges?
You not only want a divorce lawyer who has experience with the laws but also the local courts. Lawyers should be familiar with the judges and how they rule on certain things. For example, if you are seeking child custody, how does the judge rule on that? Your lawyer should be familiar with rulings and overall judge behavior and personalities so they can determine how to represent your case in court.
Will you handle my case the entire time?
There is nothing like the old bait and switch, when you expect one thing and get something totally different. This often happens with jobs, but it can happen with legal cases as well. You meet with one attorney at your consultation and you end up getting another lawyer for your case. This can cause a lot of confusion. Plus, you may not get along well with the other lawyer and this can create tension. When you meet with a lawyer for the first time, make sure they will be with you from start to finish.
What is your caseload like?
While you should not assume your divorce is the only one that your lawyer is handling, you should not have to feel insignificant because your lawyer has dozens of other cases. Your divorce is important and you want it handled properly, so don’t settle for a lawyer who is too busy to give your case the attention it deserves.
Can you communicate via phone or email?
There is so much going on during a divorce, so if you need to talk to your lawyer urgently, will you be able to? Will you be able to call or email them with questions if you cannot wait until your next scheduled appointment. If you can communicate with your lawyer, you will also want to know if there will be an additional cost to do so.
Will I be kept in the loop?
You probably want to know all the details pertaining to your divorce case. If so, will your lawyer keep you informed? You want a lawyer who will willingly communicate with you and keep you in the loop, especially when it comes to the important details. You should not have to keep pestering your lawyer for updates on a weekly basis.
Do you know my spouse or spouse’s attorney?
If your attorney knows your spouse or his or her attorney, it could create a conflict of interest. This means you may not be treated fairly during your case, depending on how your lawyer feels about the person. Your lawyer’s personal feelings could cloud their judgment, making it difficult for them to represent you effectively. Therefore, you should avoid using a divorce lawyer who has any sort of connection with your spouse.
Seek Legal Help
Before you file for divorce in Florida, it is best to do your research. There are many divorce lawyers out there, so make sure you choose the right one who fits your specific needs.
Broward County divorce attorney Scott J. Stadler has the experience to handle your case. He has more than 30 years of experience and is dedicated 100% to divorce and family law issues. Let his team help you through this emotional time. Schedule a consultation by filling out the online form or calling (954) 346-6464.