Key Questions to Ask your Divorce Attorney
Hiring a divorce lawyer is the same as hiring any other professional. You’ll want to get references from others if possible, and you should check the attorney’s credentials with the Nevada State Bar to be sure he or she is currently licensed and whether there are complaints filed against him or her. Also, check the attorney’s listing with the Better Business Bureau and if complaints were filed whether they were resolved satisfactorily. Also, you should ask the attorney or his case intake paralegal some questions about the legal experience of the attorney. Here are the most important ones to ask:
How many divorce cases of this type as this divorce attorney filed on behalf of clients?
The more of your type of divorce case the attorney has done, and the more recent the cases, the better job he or she will do with your divorce case. Divorce laws change on occasion so you want your attorney to be up on the latest changes in the law and to have recently been in front of the court on similar matters.
Has your attorney ever been divorced? Does he have children?
This actually makes a difference. A divorce attorney who has never felt the pain of going through the process of divorce may not empathize with your situation. A divorce attorney with personal divorce experience will understand the emotions you go through and will be more patient with you than a divorce lawyer who has just enjoyed the single life. After all, divorce attorneys are human beings too, breathing and bleeding like everyone else, and as we all know, nothing makes us more aware of the emotions that go along with life experiences than actually living through them.
What will be my estimated total fee?
Though an attorney is not always able to give you an exact total, he or she should be able to get fairly close barring any unforeseen circumstances, such as your spouse contesting the divorce and demanding much more than is reasonable (or if you kept things to yourself that you should have disclosed to your divorce lawyer which broadside him or her, a no-no!). The best thing, of course, is to retain an attorney with a flat fee for uncontested matters, and check that this same attorney charges reasonable fees in the event your uncontested divorce becomes contested. There are now many unbundled law firms that charge by the task which also lowers overall costs for you.
Have you handled cases like mine?
For instance, some cases have a unique component. Even seasoned attorneys can get caught up in a situation where they simply do not know the procedures or commonly practiced habits of a different sort of court like juvenile or criminal court.
What can I expect regarding billing statements and attorney fees?
While most attorneys cannot accurately predict what they will spend on a case from the very outset, the attorney should be willing to explain how their services are billed, how often they send out statements and what they expect regarding payment of their fees.
What about confidentiality?
You have a right to know who will be looking at your personal information and divorce file. Be sure to establish upfront who will have access and whether or not your access has limitations.
Should one of us move out of the home?
This is more of a personal issue. If the attorney feels both parties can act responsibly, they might recommend you both remain at home, especially if children are involved. If the divorce is contested, forcing your former spouse to move out might be in your best interest. If each party is living in separate quarters, the couple can avoid exacerbating existing issues.
What are the guidelines regarding communication with my spouse?
Be sure to find out exactly what you can and cannot say to your spouse about the divorce proceedings. Remember, client/attorney privilege laws won’t protect you in these circumstances. Disclosing confidential information could jeopardize your assets.
My Spouse Really Doesn’t Want To Get Divorced – What Are My Options?
If your partner is refusing to accept you want a divorce it’s likely you will need to seek professional help. Sometimes a partner will avoid signing the papers or even accepting receipt of them. A popular alternative is to engage the services of a process server, similar to a bailiff. The role of the process server is to hand deliver the divorce papers to your spouse without notice.
When the process server has identified and confirmed your spouse’s identity usually by photographic evidence or asking your spouse to confirm their name, the papers will be handed to them. The Process Server will then provide a statement of service which is submitted to the Court with an application for decree nisi to prove that your spouse has received the papers. Your divorce can then proceed without further input or consent from your spouse.
Should I write a will / rewrite my current will now or wait until after my divorce is finalised?
This is an important question to ask. Often people want to make a new Will when they separate because when they are still married, their spouse can have claims on their estate, even if they’re separated.
I don’t have the full picture regarding my spouse’s financial situation. Can they hide things from me?
There is always a possibility a spouse or ex-spouse will try hide some of their wealth. This is against the law and there have been high profile cases in the news where women have won a Supreme Court fight on the basis that their ex-husbands hadn’t declared their true worth at the time of divorce.
Will I need to appear in court?
If the divorce is uncontested, neither party will have to appear in court. If it’s a contested divorce, your attorney will likely state that your appearance is mandatory.
What will my lawyer charge in terms of fees?
The costs will likely vary based on whether the divorce is contested or not. Some attorneys will charge a flat fee, while others might charge an hourly fee. It’s well within your rights to see if you can negotiate a deal.
Should we consider any temporary court orders?
If you have any reason to believe your spouse will react adversely to a request for divorce, your attorney could ask the court for temporary orders during the proceedings, including a restraining order or a spousal/child support order. Sadly, the spouse requesting the divorce may be a risk of physical abuse if they serve the papers firsthand.