Top 4 Key Questions to Ask a Divorce Lawyer at First Meeting

Below are our top 4 key questions to ask a divorce lawyer at first meeting. This following list of questions was created to help you identify a potential lawyer to understand the California divorce legal process and retain the best  divorce lawyer for your situation. Read on to learn more.

Questions to Ask Divorce Lawyer at Initial Consultation

  1. How much does a divorce cost? One of the first questions to ask a divorce lawyer at your first meeting is how much will your divorce cost. Make sure you understand the lawyer’s fee structure before you hire her. Find out if the lawyer charges a flat fee or hourly rate (most experienced divorce lawyer hourly rates start at $350 per hour). A flat fee uncontested divorce places a cap on how much you will pay the divorce attorney to complete your case. You can expect to pay between $1,800 – $3,500 for an uncontested divorce. Most lawyers request a minimum retainer of $5,000 for a contested divorce. Divorce lawyers that work by the hour bill against the collected retainer. Your retainer amount may increase depending on the complexity of your divorce. Use our Divorce Attorney Fee Calculator to estimate your potential costs.
  2. How long does it take to complete a divorce? It takes a minimum of 3 – 6 months in most states from the date the respondent is served with the court summons and divorce petition before your marital status can be terminated. Ask the divorce lawyer how you can expedite the process to ensure your divorce is completed in less than a year.
  3. How often should you expect to hear from your divorce attorney? Most divorce attorneys work as solo practitioners. As such, lawyers with heavy caseloads may take several days to follow up with their clients. Ask the lawyer how often she follows up with clients and if you can expect to hear from her by phone or email.
  4. Will the divorce attorney negotiate directly with your spouse or expect you to do it? If you haven’t reached a settlement in principle with your spouse, you may need a divorce lawyer to negotiate on your behalf. Expect to pay more money if the divorce lawyer has to negotiate a divorce settlement with your spouse (opposing counsel)). The fastest way to complete your divorce is to reach an agreement with your spouse on the division of community property and debts, child custody, and child support before retaining counsel.

Understand the Divorce Process

Make sure you understand the basics of the divorce process before you meet with your divorce lawyer. For example, you must meet California’s divorce residency requirements and know whether your divorce case is uncontested or contested. You must reside in California for at least six months before filing for divorce (this includes residing in the county that you file for divorce in for at least six months before filing). Understand your state’s divorce residency requirements before filing your petition.

An uncontested divorce occurs when you and your spouse are in agreement of all issues pertaining to the division of community assets and debts, spousal support, and issues pertaining to child custody and child support.  A contested divorce occurs when a couple are not in agreement and need court intervention to resolve the issue. Try to settle all of your issues outside of court to avoid hefty divorce costs. Maintaining an amicable divorce can help expedite the process.

Community Property Questions to Ask Lawyer at First Meeting

Most states are community property states which requires community property to be divided 50-50 between divorcing couples. An equitable distribution may be made with a monetary offset in certain situations. Make sure you ask the divorce lawyer questions regarding how your marital assets and debts (including retirement accounts) may be divided and what the potential tax consequences may be.

Child Custody Questions to Ask Lawyer at First Meeting

It will be easier to resolve child custody issues with your spouse if you are divorcing on amicable terms. Ask your divorce lawyer how she can help you create a co-parenting plan that best meets your needs. The amount of time a child spends with each parent will impact the amount of child support the primary custodial parent may receive. Discuss with your divorce lawyer your legal custody and physical custody rights and responsibilities.

Spousal Support Questions to Ask Lawyer at First Meeting

Depending on the length of your marriage and how much money your spouse makes, you may be required to pay spousal support. Ask the divorce lawyer to provide you with an official spousal support calculation. You may be able to exchange your interest in the marital home in exchange of paying a lower spousal support amount.

SD Esquire Flat Fee Divorce Service

SD Esquire provides flat fee uncontested divorce services. We will prepare the legal documents you need to file for and complete your divorce.  This includes preparing and filling your divorce petition, completing your financial disclsoure, and drafting your marital settlement agreement (MSA). Our uncontested flat fee divorce service starts at $1500 for standard divorce (you are responsible for paying court filing fees).  The fee also includes service of process fees. You can make installment payments as your case progresses. It costs $500 to start your matter. Sign up today to get started.

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