Divorce is not what anyone wants, but sometimes it’s simply inevitable and may be for the best over the long term. It is crucial that the right divorce attorney be chosen, but the best attorney is not one who makes sure that his or her client gets everything they want and puts the other party through exquisite pain in the process. A good divorce attorney is there to protect their client and make sure that the outcome is good for everyone, especially the children. This means that the attorney may have to say “no,” to the client’s wishes, especially if they involve retribution and humiliation.
A client who is seeking a divorce should have a list of questions to ask a lawyer above and beyond the lawyer’s fees. Here are three major questions to ask:
How much of the lawyer’s practice involves divorce cases?
A lawyer should at least have a good percentage of his or her practice devoted to divorce or matrimonial cases. A client certainly doesn’t want a lawyer who has no experience with divorce at all, and a lawyer whose practice has nothing to do with matrimonial cases probably won’t accept the client’s case anyway.
Most of all, the lawyer must be familiar with family law as it is practiced in the court where the client’s case will be heard, if it gets to court. The lawyer must not only be up-to-date with the changing family and matrimonial law, but must be up-to-date on the judges and the other lawyers who frequent the courthouse. If the divorce case is complicated, the divorce lawyer must also have some knowledge of tax law. If the case is extremely complicated, a tax expert can be called upon later.
Is the lawyer willing to go to court if the case can’t be settled?
The lawyer should be willing to go to court if the case can’t be settled outside of it. If the lawyer is unwilling to go, another attorney from the office should take the case to court. If the law office is unwilling to send any of its attorneys to court, the client may be in the position of having to hire legal counsel all over again or, worse, go into court basically undefended.
What does the lawyer expect from the client when it comes to their availability to appear in court or at hearings and depositions? What does the lawyer need from the client when it comes to the discovery process?
Discovery determines the nature, the credibility and the extent of the claim of an opposing party. This means depositions, notices and other documentation. The client is going to have to produce a good deal of it. This includes income of the spouses, property owned by the spouses, and the number, names and ages of their children if child custody is going to be an issue.
The good news about discovery is that it can be the basis of a settlement, which can keep both parties out of court.