Filing for divorce can be an intimidating process, especially without legal training. For that reason, most people choose to have an attorney represent their rights in court. Choosing the right attorney helps people feel comfortable and confident throughout the divorce process, and helps people feel like they are in control of their futures. Before hiring your attorney, ask these questions and make sure that you are making the right decision.
#1: What Types of Law Do You Practice?
Some attorneys practice in many different areas of the law. While many of these attorneys are skilled practitioners, it is often better to hire an attorney who practices only in the area of family law. These attorneys, like those at Pacific Northwest Family Law, have their entire office and staff devoted to cases involving divorce, child custody, or child support. This type of dedicated practice allows family law attorneys to focus on common issues specific to these types of cases.
#2: How Do You Think My Case Will Proceed?
While no attorney can predict exactly how a case will go, the attorney you choose should be able to give you a basic timeline for how things will proceed. During an initial meeting, your attorney should listen to your situation, and help you determine the best course of action. This may mean filing motions in court, setting up a mediation between you and your ex-spouse, or recommending that you try collaborative divorce methods.
#3: Who Will Be Handling My Case?
In some firms, especially firms with many attorneys, much of the legwork in a case is done by a paralegal or legal assistant. Paralegals or legal assistants cannot provide legal advice and act under the supervision of a licensed attorney. Ask your lawyer directly about how your case will be managed, and make sure you are comfortable with how your case will be handled.
#4: How Will I Be Contacted About My Case?
Lack of communication is the number one complaint that clients have about their attorneys. Some law firms and lawyers will provide updates on a regular basis. Others may allow months to go by before calling you about your case. Still others will be difficult to talk unless they make a court appearance. Before you hire an attorney, check to see if you will be able to call him or her directly, or if you will mainly be speaking with a paralegal or legal assistant. Ask how often you can expect updates about your case, and if you will be able to communicate with the attorney over email or on the phone. Everyone has different needs, and it is important to be sure that your attorney’s way of communicating with clients is sufficient to make you comfortable.
#5: How Much Will My Case Cost?
Every attorney will have you sign a fee agreement which outlines the costs and fees for your case. Most lawyers will charge an hourly rate for their services. with separate hourly rates for any other legal professionals who may be working on your case. Others will require a specific fee for things like an attorney appearing in court. In addition to hourly fees, you will likely be responsible for costs, such as filing fees, photocopies, deposition costs, and other miscellaneous expenses. Before you sign the fee agreement, make sure you understand how you will be charged, how much you owe up front as a retainer, and what your responsibilities are once the initial retainer runs out.
Choosing the Right Attorney
If you and your spouse are having problems and are considering a divorce, remember that you will have to see your former partner at graduations, weddings, and every significant event in your children’s lives for as long as you both live. If your focus is moving on and bettering your life and the lives of your children, Pacific Northwest Family Law can help. At Pacific Northwest Family Law, our attorneys offer services which include traditional divorces, collaborative divorces, legal separations, mediations, and arbitrations, all with an eye to planning for your future.
To schedule your consultation, or to learn more about your options, contact our helpful Washington family law attorneys today by calling 509-572-3700.