Choosing a trusted, experienced divorce lawyer is the most important decision you will make as you move forward with divorce proceedings. Hiring a divorce attorney with a proven track record of success is a game-changer, as you will greatly boost the odds of a fair and favorable outcome in your case. But not all Florida divorce lawyers are created equal. They vary greatly in terms of experience, specialty work, fee requirements, and responsiveness to their clients. The single best way to ensure that you select an experienced, affordable divorce lawyer is to ask plenty of questions as you evaluate prospective candidates. Below are eight questions to ask a divorce lawyer before you hire them.
1) Are you certified to practice family law?
There is no substitute for an experienced divorce lawyer who is certified in family law. There are currently only 273 lawyers in the state of Florida who are certified to practice family law. Achieving board certification requires lawyers to fulfill a number of requirements including the following:
- A minimum of five years of experience practicing law
- A membership in good standing with The Florida Bar
- 25 contested cases focusing on marital and family law
- At least 50% of practice devoted to marital and family law
- A minimum of 75 credit hours of approved Continuing Legal Education (CLE)
- Successful completion of a written examination
2) Will you be the sole person handling my case or will I be working with others also?
As a new client seeking representation from a divorce lawyer, you have rights and responsibilities. Most divorce lawyers do not offer their services free of charge, so one of your responsibilities as a client is to remit payment for services rendered.
One of your many rights as a client is to know who will be handling the legal services for which you are paying. The last thing you want is to devote a good portion of your salary to your divorce only to discover that an intern or junior attorney is handling the majority of your case. Be sure to find out whether one lawyer will be handling your case, or whether you will be working with multiple people. If the latter is the case, ask for the names of the staff with whom you will be working.
3) How much can I expect to pay for your services?
Lawyers vary in terms of their fees and payment schedules. Before you commit to a divorce lawyer, make sure you have an idea of their fee schedule and payment terms. Request this information in writing and keep a copy on hand. Here are some points to consider and discuss during your initial consultation with your attorney:
- Payment methods: Ideally, the lawyer you choose should accept a variety of payment methods, including cash, credit card, and virtual check.
- Retainers or advance payments: Some lawyers require a retainer or advance payment for services. In most cases, additional charges will follow.
- Flat-fee pricing: Man of Florida’s top divorce attorneys offer flat-fee pricing for divorce cases. Flat fee pricing allows you to budget in advance.
4) Based on your experience, what are some other expenses I may need to cover?
Even the most accomplished divorce lawyers do not have a crystal ball. However, they can help you anticipate other possible expenses that you may face as you move through divorce proceedings. While attorney’s fees will cover the majority of costs related to the legal aspects of your divorce, you may also need to account for child care costs, lost income due to missed time at work, and the cost to travel to and from court and your lawyer’s office.
5) Approximately how long can I expect the divorce process to last?
No two divorces are exactly alike. The exact amount of time required to finalize your divorce will depend greatly upon whether your divorce is contested or uncontested. While uncontested divorces can be finalized in as little as a month, a contested divorce can take well over six months to finalize if spouses continue to disagree on issues such as alimony, division of property, and child custody matters.
While it is nearly impossible to predict how many days your divorce proceedings will last, an experienced lawyer will be able to listen to your story and your divorce goals and assess whether your divorce is likely to be uncontested, highly contested, or somewhere in between. They can then give you a reasonable estimate regarding the length of your case.
6) Will you speak with my spouse on my behalf?
Some people going through a divorce have very strained relationships with their spouses. Others may have been abused by their spouses in the past and are fearful of communicating with them. The most supportive divorce attorneys will understand if you fall into either of these categories and will serve as the communication link between you and your spouse.
7) How can I get in touch with you if an emergency arises?
Life is full of unpredictable emergencies, especially for couples who are going through a divorce. If you urgently need the guidance of your lawyer, you need to know that you can count on their support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The most dedicated family lawyers will provide you with a number of ways to reach them, including the following:
- 24-hour support via cell phone or text
- One or more email addresses that you can use to seek help or exchange important documents
- A physical office address in case you need to meet face to face
8) Given what you know about my case, how do you think the judge may rule?
Predicting the exact outcome of a divorce case is nearly impossible. However, this is one of the most important questions to ask a divorce lawyer, because a family lawyer who has successfully handled dozens of cases will be able to review the details of your case and estimate the chances that your divorce outcome will match your hopes and expectations.
What should you do if you are seeking an experienced, affordable divorce lawyer?
Selecting the best divorce lawyer to handle your case is not always easy, but if you take the time to research prospective attorneys and ask the questions above, you can boost the odds that you will achieve a successful outcome with your case.
If you are contemplating divorce and are not sure how to proceed, then contact Florida Law Advisers, P.A. Their experienced team of divorce lawyers will provide you with the legal support and guidance that you need to help you move through your divorce proceedings as smoothly and efficiently as possible. Most importantly, they will help protect your assets and secure a favorable outcome with your divorce.