Important Questions to Ask Your Divorce Attorney
Choosing the right attorney — while you are going through a process as difficult as divorce — is crucial. It is important to do the research and ensure that you have selected someone who is qualified to work on your case, particularly if you are dealing with complicated financial and/or child custody issues. There are some basic questions you may want to ask any attorney you are considering to hire for your case:
- Have you handled many divorce cases? How long have you been practicing? You want to ensure that you are working with an attorney experienced in this particular area, since there are many, specific areas within family law.
- What is your typical clientele? It is important to be aware of whether the firm prefers a certain gender, or is more equal in its representation.
- How long do you typically take in getting back to your clients if they have questions about their case? If there is an emergency, you want to make sure you can reach your attorney.
- Do you tend to work on cases alone or in collaboration with other attorneys? Find out if your attorney will be working with other attorneys, paralegals, etc. in the office.
- How do you assess charges (i.e. hourly, emails, phone calls, etc.)? What is the typical total to work on divorce cases? What is your estimate for total cost of my case? Do you charge a retainer, and if so, is a portion of it refundable if not entirely used? Having a clear understanding of how you will be billed, and a ballpark estimate of what your case will cost, is of paramount importance to most, particularly if at least part of the retainer should arguably be returned to you.
- Do you have any estimate for how a judge will decide on my case and how long it will take before it is resolved? Are you familiar with the judge(s)? It is of vital importance that your attorney has a good relationship with the relevant judges who could end up hearing your case, and to have that, they need to be experienced.
- How familiar are you with mediation and/or negotiation? Do your cases typically all go to litigation, or are they sometimes settled? According to Florida law, “mediation” is a process whereby a neutral third person (called a mediator) acts to facilitate the resolution of a dispute between the parties. Although the decision-making authority is left up to the parties, the mediator can help identify relevant issues and encourage problem-solving and settlement alternatives.
“Mediation” can include:
- Appellate court mediation: during the pendency of an appeal of a civil case.
- Circuit court mediation: mediation of civil cases (except those related to family matters) in circuit court.
- County court mediation: mediation of civil cases within the jurisdiction of county courts, such as small claims.
- Family mediation: mediation of family matters, including those who are married and unmarried persons, before and after decisions involving divorce, child support and/or custody, property division, etc.
- Dependency or in need of services mediation: mediation focusing on child safety/protection, best interests of the child, and the safety of other family members.
According to the Florida rules for certified and court-appointed mediators, you must be certified or complete a minimum of 20 hours in a training program certified by the Supreme Court, as well as meet other requirements.
- Do you have any questions for me? It is a good sign when your attorney wants to know the details about you and your case before agreeing to take it on.
Fort Lauderdale Family Law and Divorce Attorney
You can make it much easier on yourself by having a competent and compassionate attorney by your side to help you achieve your goals. At the law office of Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, we work hard to obtain favorable results for our clients as efficiently and economically as possible.