Choosing to separate from a partner is never easy. The decision to file for divorce is probably one of the most emotionally draining situations a family can face. It changes the family dynamic, at least temporarily, and the outcome affects the livelihood of all individuals involved.
Due to its sensitive nature, filing for divorce should not be taken lightly. One of the ways to ease the process is to hire an experienced, well-qualified divorce attorney. Before you hire the first attorney you come across or your best friend’s attorney, it’s a good idea to research several potential divorce attorneys. Once you have found a few you think could be a good fit, schedule a consultation with them. This is your opportunity to not only learn about your potential attorney, but also the insight into how your case will be handled.
Not sure of what questions to ask? Here is a list of questions to ask before hiring your divorce attorney:
How long have you been practicing law?
Oftentimes, divorces go to trial. You’ll need an attorney with experience in examining witnesses, making objections to evidence, and filing motions. A newer or inexperienced attorney may not have the skills needed.
How much family law do you practice?
Although an attorney may list family law as a practice area on his or her firm’s website, it doesn’t give you insight into what percentage of the caseload falls into that category. While some firms focus on family law, others may take on a wider range of civil and/or criminal cases. However, experience in more than one area can be beneficial, especially if you feel that wills, trusts or other civil issues could play a role in your divorce. Keep in mind that family law includes not only divorce, but can also include alimony, paternity, child custody and child support. If these issues will be a factor in your divorce proceedings, hiring a broad family law attorney could be to your advantage.
What are the possible outcomes of my case?
While no attorney can foresee the future, chances are he or she can use previous experiences to reasonably estimate the outcome of your case. Once you communicate your desired outcome (i.e. 50 percent of assets, joint custody, etc.) with your attorney, he or she can determine the time and resources needed to make your divorce proceedings a success.
How much will it cost?
Divorces can be expensive, so it’s best to know the potential costs (and avoid financial surprises) before hiring an attorney. During the consultation, the attorney should provide the costs for any upfront retainers that you’ll need to pay, the hourly fee, what tasks are included and an estimated timeline for your case.
Who will be involved in my case?
Your attorney will receive the accolades if the outcome of your case is successful, but chances are, they have a skilled support staff to help streamline efforts allowing them to focus on the attorney-client relationship.
It’s important to know if the attorney you meet with will be handling your case. At your consultation, take the time to review the credentials of the attorney, and don’t be afraid to ask who will handle which element of your case.
How will we communicate?
There are many options for cultivating a strong attorney-client relationship in our digital age including email, social media and specialized mobile apps. While some attorneys still prefer traditional in-person and phone interactions, others have joined the digital revolution hoping it will result in greater access and increased response rates. Choose the attorney that best matches your preferred communication method and style, and you feel will respond quickly and respectfully to your concerns and questions.
Hiring a divorce attorney can be challenging. By taking the time to ask the right questions, you’ll be able to find the best attorney for the job.
The family law attorneys at The Law Offices of Matthew J. Jowanna, P.A. understand the complicated emotions involved in a divorce. We take the time to explain your rights and responsibilities under Florida law. Every divorce is different, and our attorneys are here to protect and advocate for your best interests. If you have a legal question or would like to schedule a consultation, fill out our contact form or call 813-929-7300.