When a decision is made to divorce from your spouse, there is what feels like a great urgency to find an attorney so that you are not caught off-guard with anything that may come your way from the opposing party, especially when children are involved. It is important to remember that you do not need to retain the first family law attorney you meet. Choosing the right attorney is as important as choosing the right school or medical specialist for you and your children.
Even if your friends or another lawyer offers a referral for a particular family law attorney, it is important to still be diligent in making sure that the attorney has the experience and qualifications to handle all the issues you will be facing during litigation and settlement.
As you drive anywhere in Las Vegas, turn on the radio, or watch commercials on the TV, you know there are lots of lawyers out there, and many describe themselves as “family law” or “divorce” attorneys. However, family law is a specialty that involves complex statutes, which take experience to master. Within the area of family law, there custody law, military law, international custody law, guardianship, and Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDROs), which is required to divide certain types of retirement benefits.
Be your own investigative reporter and ask the questions below:
1. Do you specialize in divorces, or are divorces just a part of your practice? How long have you been practicing family law? How many family law cases have you handled? Are you a “certified family law specialist?”
2. What is your strategy for my case? How long will it take to resolve my case?
3. How long do you take to return phone calls? How do I get a hold of you if there is an emergency? What do you consider to be an emergency?
4. Will anyone else in your office be working on my case? What experience do they have? Can I meet them?
5. What administrative tasks am I billed for? What is your hourly rate? Do you charge for the time I spend with other lawyers, with paralegals, and/or with secretaries? If so, at what rate? What is your retainer up front?
6. What costs (other than your own) do you expect will be involved (for example, for private investigators, forensic accountants, physicians, and/or psychologists), and how will you charge me for them?
7. What’s your estimate of the total cost of this divorce?
8. Do you mediate settlement hearings outside of court to negotiate directly with my spouse? How can I keep the cost of my divorce down? Is there work I can do myself keep costs low?
9. Based on what you know about my case, how would you predict a judge would rule on it?
10. What can you tell me about the financial decisions I will have to make?