Questions to Ask a Divorce Attorney During Initial Consultation

Written by on February 15, 2022 in Uncategorized

If you are considering a divorce, it is a good idea to schedule an initial consultation with a family law attorney.   The initial consultation typically lasts one hour.  During the initial consultation the family law attorney should let you know what your rights and responsibilities are, provide you with a roadmap of what to expect during the divorce process, and answer any questions you have.

Since most people have not consulted with a divorce attorney before we thought it might be helpful to list some of the questions you should ask the family law attorney during your initial consultation.

  1. Do we have to go to Court?

Litigation is certainly an option in every case – but it is not the only option.  During your initial consultation, you should ask the divorce attorney if you have to go to Court or if you can resolve your case through settlement (and without the need to go to Court).  The divorce attorney should discuss the pros and cons of litigation and settlement with you and should help you strategize your best path. 

At Farkhad & Wang, we first try to resolve your case through settlement.  If settlement is not an option, we then discuss litigation. 

2. Costs:

The one question that everyone asks is, “How much will my divorce cost?”  Unless you are engaging the attorney for a Flat Fee Divorce, we can’t answer this question.  This is because every case is different and the costs incurred will depend on the time spent on your case (including the amount of communication between the attorney and the client, meetings with opposing counsel, time spent in court and preparing for court, etc.).   But below are some questions you should ask that may help determine the costs of your case.

3. What is your hourly billable rate? What is your retainer amount?

Attorneys vary in the amount they charge per hour and the retainers they take.  You should retain an attorney that is in line with your budget and assets.

4. Do you charge real time or in increments?

Some attorneys charge in minute increments – usually these are 6 minute or 15 minute increments.  For example, if the attorney charges in 15 minute increments and you speak to them for 10 minutes, you will be charged for 15 minutes.  Other attorneys charge in real or actual time.  In the above example, you would be charged 10 minutes.

5. Is my retainer refundable?

Most family law attorneys will require a retainer to start your case.  A retainer is like a “deposit” that is placed in an Attorney-Client Trust account.  The attorney will then withdraw the monies you incur from that Trust Account.

Before hiring the attorney, ask them what happens if you have money left in your Trust account at the end of your case.  Will your attorney refund that money to you or is your retainer non-refundable (i.e., “earned upon receipt”) by the attorney?  Typically the unused portion of the retainer is refundable but some attorneys can require that the retainer is “earned upon receipt.” 

6. Who will be handling my case?

Sometimes, the attorney that you consult with will not be the attorney who you are in contact with or the one who will attend Court for you.  This is not necessarily a negative but you should know who will be your main contact at the firm.

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