2021 Legal Guide Page

DIVORCE FACT   The average marriage in the United States lasts 8.2 years.   Couples in Italy more than double the United States marriage longevity with their marriages lasting on average over 18 years.

Interviewing a potential attorney 

It's time to consult an attorney to get a broader legal view of your pending divorce.  But, what should you know before you meet with your first attorney?

Know what you seek in an attorney

You should look for an attorney to have the background, rate and "court side manner" that provides you the best representation.   Some excellent attorneys have strong personalities.  This may be good for negotiating or litigating, but you should still feel heard when discussing your concerns.  Do not meet with anyone who has a relationship or has already met with your spouse unless it is a mutual attorney.

He/she should have experience with the type of divorce you seek and similar circumstances as your case.  Typically, the attorney will advertise as a family law or divorce attorney, but some will be listed under general practice attorneys who do not limit their practice to any specific area of law, but often include family law in their areas of concentration.   

Your goal is to dissolve your marriage with the least amount of time, problems and legal fees.  There is no way to sugar coat "divorce" which is usually intertwined with emotional drama and pain. 

From this point on, know that your attorney will be your attorney and not your therapist.  It's time to toughen up and speak law, or at least understand it so that you can get the best settlement possible.

What to ask your attorney in the first interview

Take notes while interviewing the attorney and before the close of the interview, go over important topics to clarify your understanding of what's been discussed.  There will be many aspects of your situation that we can not fully anticipate, specific to your state and circumstances, but generally you will want to include the following in your interview(s) or initial consultation:

  • Does the attorney know your spouse to include but not limited to consultation regarding divorce?  If so, discontinue the interview unless you and your spouse are seeking a mutual attorney.
  • Attorney's fee structure to include retainer necessary to initiate representation.
  • Laws and divorce procedures of your state as they apply to your circumstances and case.  
  • Factors specific to your state that affect child support, alimony, maintenance, etc.
  • Legal separation.  Is it a state requirement prior to divorce; if so how long.   If applicable, what are the guidelines of the separation?  Will anything nullify the separation or start the required time period over?  Are there any restrictions about sharing the marital home during separation?
  • Differences of legal separation, separation, annulment and divorce.  
  • Requirements (i.e. child custody classes) necessary to complete prior to the divorce.
  • State property laws specific to each spouse's ownership rights as they pertain to your state's process for division of marital assets.  Know if you are in a community property state or an equitable distribution state.
  • If you don't already know prior to the interview, what are the types of divorce offered in your state?
  • Based on those various types of divorce what is the attorney's recommendation for the most cost effective and advantageous type of divorce based on your circumstances.
  • A general schedule of process based on the type(s) of divorce that you are considering.
  • If you expect a difficult divorce, does the attorney have successful trial experience?

It's best to consider multiple attorney(s) and unless absolutely necessary, don't hire the day of the interview.  Review your notes and any information the attorney(s) provide that would help you in your hiring process.

Proceed to the next article in our Legal Guide, "Why you should like your attorney" to help you determine if the attorney(s) you met are a good fit to represent you in your divorce.         

-OurDMK.com



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