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What questions should I ask my divorce lawyer?

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Clients are savvy when it comes to picking a lawyer to represent them on a divorce. Your lawyer should respond to questions that you reasonably ask about their credentials and experience; if they get offended or refuse to answer your questions, you should consider going to another lawyer. I welcome questions and encourage potential clients who are attorney shopping, to ask as many questions as will make them feel comfortable that I am, or our firm is, the right attorney to represent them on their divorce. I hand out a copy of my curriculum vitae to all potential clients, and that document answers a lot of questions in and of itself, that a potential client may have. The following list of questions to ask an attorney that you are considering in hiring is not intended to be exhaustive; inevitably, a potential client may have a question that I have not addressed in this post; if you have a specific question that is not asked here, post it as a comment and we can add it to the list and maybe even answer your question!
  • How long have you been in practice?
  • Do you handle any other areas of law and if so, how much of your practice is devoted to family law matters?
  • How many divorces have you handled?
  • How often do you go to court?
  • Do you know the specific judge assigned to my case?
  • Do you know my spouse’s attorney?
  • Will I get copies of all documents in my case?
  • What is your response time to answering phone calls and e mails?
  • Do you have flex hours or are you strictly 9-5, Monday-Friday?
  • Will I be billed for paralegal or assistants time, and if so, at what rate?
  • Will I be required to sign a written fee agreement? (under ethical rules in Wisconsin, they are mandatory for any case where the fees are $1,000 or more).
  • If the retainer (advanced fee) is not entirely used up during the representation, will the balance be refunded to me?
  • Will I receive an itemized monthly billing statement?
  • If the retainer (advanced fee) is exhausted during my representation, do I have to pay the bill off each month, or will I be allowed to make monthly payments?
  • Will I be required to pay another retainer (advanced fee) if the case proceeds to trial?
  • What happens if I disagree with some of the advice you provide me?
  • Will you prepare me in advance for all court hearings and other out of office meetings?
  • What is your philosophy on divorce cases; do you believe it is better to go to trial or settle the case out of court?
  • Can I talk to my spouse and try to settle issues on our own, or must everything go through you?
  • How many cases have you tried in the last year?
  • Are you listed in Best Lawyers, Super Lawyers or other professional organizations that recognizes you as one of the best attorneys in your field?
As a consumer, don’t be afraid to ask questions. We welcome them and encourage prospective clients to “ask away!” Going through a divorce may be one of the most traumatic and emotional events in your life; make sure the divorce attorney you select is the right fit for you! Good luck! Now go shop and find that attorney! If you have questions about going through a divorce, call us at Karp & Iancu, S.C.
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