What questions should I ask a divorce attorney?
It is very important that you are comfortable with the divorce attorney you have hired to help you with your divorce or family law matter. One of the most common complaints about lawyers is that clients feel they do not know what is happening with their case. Finding the right attorney for you and your case is paramount. Make sure that your attorney communicates well regarding updates in your case as this will make the rest of the divorce process less stressful.
At the Liu Law Firm, our clients are updated in real-time and are informed in advance what is happening with their cases at every step, what to expect in moving forward, and what is being filed on their behalf.
Here are some important questions to ask your divorce attorney during the initial consultation:
How many years of experience do you have?
Experienced family law and divorce attorneys will have more insight and knowledge about the divorce process and how to leverage that experience to achieve your goals in the case.
Have you had any cases similar to mine?
Each individual case is different. However, gauging your attorney’s experience in specific complex legal issues can give you insight on whether the attorney is a good fit for your case. A few complex issues may include: child support, immigration issues intertwined with family law issues, and property division.
It is also important to check if the attorney has experience practicing in the county or court in your case as each county and court may have different local rules and practices that could impact how to handle the case or the overall strategy of the case.
Will you personally be working on my case?
Large and medium law firms tend to work collaboratively. This means that the divorce attorney you met with during your initial consultation may not actually be the person handling your case; after being retained, the partner or senior attorney you met with may assign your case to one of the associate attorneys that you have never met or communicated with to do the bulk of the paperwork and preparations for court.
On the other hand, small family law firms or boutique law firms will be fully involved in handling every aspect of your case, be knowledgeable about any changes and status, and work collaboratively with you to achieve your legal goals.
How does billing work?
Understanding how your attorney and their firm charge you will prevent confusion down the road. Most divorce and family law attorneys work on a retainer system, meaning that a retainer must be paid advance in full into a trust account in order for representation to commence; during the course of the case, the portion that is earned by the law firm will be deducted from the retainer at the end of the billing cycle.
Some law firms may charge you for overhead costs (i.e., from the time that a receptionist picks up the phone and transfer the call to the attorney or for the office manager’s time in discussing a bill). You should ask your attorney up front what the firm will bill for; common costs usually include communications, drafting pleadings, legal research, and hearing and trial preparation. Understanding what you will and will not be charged for is an important consideration in determining the cost of your divorce.
At the Liu Law Firm, we believe in transparency and responsible stewardship when it comes to our client’s money and do not charge for overhead costs and the work of administrative staff. For more information on Liu Law Firm’s pricing, view our billing policy here.
What expectations should I have about communicating with my attorney?
It is important to understand what is the most convenient and cost-effective way to get in touch with your attorney and understand how often you should be hearing from them up front. Sometimes, a phone call is more cost effective than sending multiple emails.
Can I go to mediation instead of trial?
Many courts require mediation in family law matters before proceeding to trial. While choosing not to go to mediation is not an impediment to proceeding to trial, you may not be able to obtain the full amount of time at trial to present your case that you would otherwise be entitled to have if parties had attended mediation. Also, resolving the matter at mediation may give you more control over your case and be more cost-effective than going to trial.
At the Liu Law Firm, we stand ready to fight tenaciously for the rights of our clients but recognize that protracted litigation may ultimately damage personal relationships that may be key to co-parenting issues. Therefore, we also work diligently to create opportunities for amicable resolutions that meet your goals.
How much will my divorce cost?
While an attorney cannot usually provide you with an exact number, the attorney should be able to predict what potential issues could arise based on the complexity of your divorce. You should be careful of attorneys those who request a flat fee or “guarantee” cost as that may no longer apply if the case becomes contested or circumstances change.
For more information on this topic, reference our blog: How Much Does a Divorce Cost in Texas?
How do you handle child support and child custody?
One of the most important issues concerning divorce and family law is how custody and child support will be determined. An experienced family law attorney can act as a fierce advocate to negotiate on your behalf and protect your parental rights.
For more information on child support services, please view our blog: What Does Child Support Cover?
Will I be able to get spousal support or will I have to pay spousal support?
In Texas, spousal maintenance is limited to specific circumstances and decided on a case-by-case basis. Ask your attorney if spousal maintenance may be available in your case. The following are four ways where a spouse may be eligible for spousal maintenance:
- Regardless of the length of the marriage, the spouse from whom spousal maintenance is sought has been convicted or received deferred adjudication for a family violence offense against the other spouse or the other spouses’ child within two years of the filing of the divorce or while the divorce is pending.
- The marriage has lasted at least 10 years and the spouse seeking spousal maintenance lacks sufficient property or income to provide for his or her reasonable needs and is either disabled, a primary caretaker of a disabled child, or lacks earning ability to provide for his or her minimum reasonable needs.
- Regardless of the length of the marriage, parties agree that spousal maintenance should be payable for a certain time period.
- If a spouse is a sponsored immigrant, that spouse may be able to obtain spousal maintenance depending on specific facts and circumstances.
Call the Liu Law Firm today at (469) 949-9227 to see whether spousal support may arise in your case.
What is the divorce process actually like?
Each case is different, but a divorce or family law attorney can guide you along each step of the proceedings, explain what a typical path may look like, and tell you what to expect. The divorce or family law attorney can also explain what contested issues may arise and how this may cause a divergence from a typical path and how this may impact your divorce proceedings.
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With over 17 years of experience in Family Law, our team at the Liu Law Firm care about our clients and work tirelessly to achieve their goals. Call us today or visit us in Allen, TX to see how we may help you with your divorce or family law matter at (469) 949-9227.
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