If you’re considering hiring a lawyer to handle your divorce (or help you with some other, equally important issue like modifying your custody agreement) then you’ve probably been attorney shopping online recently. You’ll notice that they all have imposing websites, and laundry list of impressive sounding credentials. But very few of them answer the questions you have. However in most cases you get a free consultation first, to see if the working relationship will be a good fit. So here are ten questions you MUST ask any attorney you see before you hire them, just to make sure you’ve hammered out the important details.
Ask about their fees. What kind of retainer fee do they ask for up front? What do they charge per hour, and what kind of payment plans are they willing to work out with you. Most people don’t have thousands of dollars sitting around in a bank account, ready and waiting to hand over to a lawyer, which means you may need to make monthly payments on your bill (If they allow you to). Ask about interest (do they charge it?), deadlines for payments, and late fees. All of these are very important and will help you avoid unpleasant surprises in the future. And remember: the cheapest attorney is almost never the best one!
Ask the attorney how they plan to communicate with you. Can you use email to send them documents and other info, or will you be expected to find a handy fax machine ?(Seriously, there are still businesses that require the use of faxes!) Can you expect a call when there are updates in your case? How often do they usually check in with clients, and what methods do they use for creating a fluid channel of communication between you? You also need to give your attorney as many ways to reach you as possible. Good communication goes both ways!
Ask your lawyer how long they’ve been practicing family law in Michigan. Is it six months? Five years? Two decades? Obviously, you want an attorney who knows what they’re doing and has a decent amount of experience. In certain cases hiring a younger go-get-’em attorney can work out, especially if they work for an established law firm and will be handling your case with help from more senior attorneys, like we do here at The Kronzek Firm.
4. The Process.
Divorces in Michigan usually follow a specific timeline. Certain documents have to be filed at certain times, or in certain orders. Motions can only be filed after ABC is complete, but before XYZ happens. There is an order to how a divorce proceeds, and your attorney should be intimately familiar with every step of it. So ask them for a quick break down. Have them lay out the process for you, from start to finish, so you know what to expect, and what comes next as you move through your divorce.
5. Time Expectations.
How long is this process supposed to take? It’s actually a very hard question to answer because there are so many variables to consider (so don’t freak out if your attorney hesitates before answering) but you should be able to get a basic “if this, then that” answer. Obviously lawyers can’t tell the future so they have no way of knowing if your spouse is suddenly going to fly off the handle and become increasingly hostile, but they should be able to give you a rough estimate of what to expect, assuming everything goes according to plan.
Getting divorced can be a long and complex process!
Join us next time for the wrap up of this list, and a few final ideas on what you should ask your attorney during that all-too-important initial consult. Until then, if you or a loved one are considering divorce, call The Kronzek Firm at 866 766 5245 and talk to our skilled family law attorneys. We’ve been helping the people of mid-Michigan with their family law concerns for decades, and we can help you too.