Choosing a divorce attorney is similar to choosing a new car to buy. You need to know the price of the car, the different features the car offers you and your family, and really how you can get the most bang for your buck in the long run. Similarly, these are just a few of the same things to consider when choosing your divorce lawyer.
You would never just pick a random car you found on Google, nor would you pick a car based solely on someone else’s experience, so why would you with your divorce attorney? There are enough attorneys in Chicago that if you do your research and prepare to meet with potential attorneys, you will end up with someone you feel comfortable with and someone you trust with your case.
6 tips to help you prepare for a divorce consultation with a lawyer
Your initial consultation with a divorce attorney should provide you with information about how the divorce process works, information about your legal rights involved in the case, and your responsibilities as a client. Tip The most important step in preparing for a consultation is
Tip 1 – Prepare a list of questions you want to answer
Make a list of questions you should ask the lawyer during the consultation. This will ensure that you don’t forget to ask something important or something you’ve been thinking about for a while. There are no bad questions. For most, the divorce process is scary and completely foreign, and lawyers understand that. So they know to expect questions.
Tip 2 – Find out what your options are for getting a divorce
When most people think of divorce, images of screaming lawyers, contentious court hearings and emotional clients come to mind. However, in reality, divorce can be a much calmer, more organized and non-judicial process. Your divorce case doesn’t have to start by jumping into court and fighting. Couples and their legal representatives can instead initially work together and try to resolve the case amicably with the best interests of the family as a whole in mind.
There are resources such as Divorce Mediation and the Collaborative Divorce Process that you can use to resolve your case. Be sure to ask your attorney during your consultation whether these options might be right for you.
Tip 3 – Know your marital finances
Plan to bring basic financial documents with you to your initial consultation, or have them handy if the consultation is over the phone or on Zoom. Basic financial documents you will want to have include:
- Income tax returns
- Recent pay stubs and W-2 forms for you and your spouse, if you have access to them
- Current mortgage statements
- Current bank statements
- Current credit card statements.
The more financial details and specific numbers you can include in your consultation, the more specific advice the lawyer will be able to give you.
Tip 3 – Ask about attorney fees
It’s important to understand how attorney fees work so you don’t get confused or lost when you read your monthly bills. This also ensures you know what to expect in terms of monthly bills so you can set a budget. On that note, make sure you budget your attorney fees so you can determine which attorneys may not work for you based on your specific budget and which are more budget-friendly.
Tip 4 – Ask the lawyer about his experience with similar cases
You should be aware of how long the attorney has been practicing and whether divorce or family law is their main area of practice. Often more important than the length of time a lawyer has been practicing law is whether they have sufficient experience with the specific family law issues in your case. Divorce can be complicated, especially when it comes to children and marital property issues. Ask about their experience with the financial aspects of the case, as well as the parenting side of things if there are minor children to think about.
Tip 5 – Have a general idea of what you want from the divorce
While you may not be completely familiar with the family legal advice that may affect your case prior to your consultation, you should still go into your appointment with some idea of the financial and child-related outcomes you are seeking. Let the divorce attorney know realistically what your goals are and how you hope to achieve those things.
Tip 6 – Listen and be open during the consultation
Hear what the lawyer has to say during the initial consultation. They are experts in divorce matters and will know best how to advise you. As experienced Chicago divorce attorneys, we know that this is a difficult process that everyone must go through. But good or bad, you need to consider all the advice a divorce attorney gives you so you can make the most informed decisions for yourself and your future.