The Questions You (Should) Ask
Because there are so many questions you will have for your divorce attorney through the representation, there are some you should ask to him or her, and others you really need to ask yourself, before you begin the relationship and sign-on with any attorney to represent you. While the most important consideration will be your own subjective determination that you have found an attorney who is a good fit for you, there are some very straight-forward questions that will help you come to that determination. By way of both reminder/referral to the information on this topic in the 2013 publication of The Brutally Honest Pennsylvania Divorce & Custody Survival Guide, available for free download on this website, and as a preview to the re-release of the updated edition of that volume, coming soon in conjunction with the release of Mr. LaMonaca’s new book, The Brutally Honest Guide to Sur-Thriving Generation Now, we offer the following thoughts on interviewing and selecting a divorce attorney.
To begin, and notwithstanding what information may be available on the attorney’s website, you should ask if the attorney you are considering practices in other areas of law. There is no reason that a lawyer who handles other types of law may not be an excellent divorce attorney and a good fit for you, but it is something you should consider for several reasons. Most important among those reasons is that divorce is a unique field. In other fields of law, the parties may well have been strangers before their case began, and will probably never deal with each other after it is concluded. In divorce cases though, the parties were intimately connected before their case began, and at least if they have children together, will likely be dealing with each other forever, after the case is concluded. Having any attorney familiar and experienced in these dynamics is important, not only to the successful handling of your divorce case, but perhaps more so to the course of your post-divorce relationship(s) with children and other family members.
Picking-up on that theme, though perhaps not at the top of your list when meeting with a prospective attorney, you should ask if s/he knows the attorney your spouse has retained and what thoughts and/or experience your prospective attorney has about/with your spouse’s attorney. Good attorneys practicing in the same field of law in the same geographic area will almost certainly know and respect each other. This can work to the benefit of both parties, in part along the lines noted above about the handling of the case and the dynamics, but also by informing everyone’s expectations, as well as by helping to keep the issues focused and the proceedings on track.
What probably is at the top of your list when meeting with a prospective attorney (and rightfully so), is the cost of representation. The attorney’s fee structure should be made perfectly clear and provided in the form of a written agreement. Moreover, the attorney should take the time to point out and to talk about the things that may cause expenses to increase, as well as certain things that may help to keep costs down. It is virtually impossible to say definitively what the final cost of a contested divorce action will be, but given the parameters of the initial discussion, it is possible to talk in general terms about what costs can be reasonably expected. If you are unclear or dissatisfied with this part of your initial consultation, the attorney you met with may not be a good fit for you.
Among those things that may help to keep costs down is having others in the attorney’s office, at lesser hourly rates, handle certain aspects of the case work and preparation. For that reason you should not hesitate to ask the attorney you are consulting if you can be introduced to other members of his/her team who may be involved in your case. You will want to have a certain confidence and comfort level with the others you will be working with, and there is no reason that relationship cannot/should not begin at the initial interview/consultation.
Lastly, you should ask and expect that the lawyer you retain will properly inform your expectations, and at the same time that s/he will inspire your confidence in the future, and about the long-term result four you and for your family. It is important that your expectations be fully informed so they may be set realistically from the start. Even so, it is perhaps more important that your confidence in the future be firmly rooted and fed through the process, and you should feel that confidence from the initial interview with a prospective divorce attorney.
To schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys or for further information, call us at the Law Office of Gregory P. LaMonaca, P.C., at (610) 892-3877