If you are considering filing for divorce, you might not know where to turn for help. With so many divorce attorneys out there, how do you know which one to choose? It is important to do your research, and a big part of that is knowing what questions to ask your prospective lawyer. In order to help you make an informed decision, we have put together a list of things you should ask during your initial consultation:
Questions about experience
- Are you certified as a California Family Law Specialist? Only Board Certified Family Law Specialists are recognized by the State Bar of California as being experts in divorce and family law. Unlike other attorneys, Board Certified Specialists must meet stringent requirements to obtain that status, including significant experience in their practice area, numerous continuing education credits, passage of a written examination, and colleague references.
- What other attorneys or paralegals will be working on my case, and what kind of experience do they have? Many aspects of your case will not be handled by a firm partner. Make sure you are comfortable with the level of experience offered by all the staff members who will be working on your case.
- Does the divorce lawyer working on this case have an AV Martindale Hubbell rating? An AV rating by Martindale Hubble is the highest rating possible. Only 5 percent of US attorneys have this rating. If your attorney has an AV rating by Martindale Hubbell it shows that he or she is truly an expert in the fields of divorce and family law.
- How many cases does the firm handle? If the firm handles only a few cases a year, it may just “dabble” in California divorce law and not have the expertise necessary to handle complex issues. Similarly, if the firm handles tons of cases, it might simply be a divorce mill. In such circumstances, much of your case may be handled by non-lawyers or inexperienced young lawyers. These circumstances can includes such important items as drafting pleading, hiring expert witnesses and drafting interrogatory responses.
Questions about accessibility
- How does the firm deal with emergencies? A qualified attorney should have contingency plans for emergency situations, such as your spouse filing an ex parte (emergency) motion requiring you to appear in court. If your specific family lawyer has a conflicting appointment, is there another qualified attorney from the firm who can accompany you?
- Will the lawyer personally return calls about important issues? General questions about the status of the case can be handled by a staff member, but legal questions should be handled by the primary divorce attorney working on the case.
- Will the attorney be willing to suggest a settlement conference with opposing counsel as soon as possible? If you and your spouse have both made financial data available, a face-to-face settlement conference can generally proceed as soon as your spouse’s attorney agrees to one. Delays can be costly, both monetarily and emotionally.
Questions about your case
- How long do you think it will take to resolve my case? What kind of strategies do you plan to use? A San Diego or Oceanside divorce attorney who cannot strategize about a particular case likely does not have much experience in California divorce law or the San Diego/Oceanside legal infrastructure.
- Can you advise me about how to handle taxes and other financial issues related to this divorce? Financial considerations are a key aspect of any divorce. A qualified divorce attorney should understand how to deal with these issues.
- Are you familiar with my spouses’ attorney? Have you worked with him or her before? If the answer is yes, your attorney might have an inside scoop on the best way to strategize the case given the opposing lawyers negotiating style.
As one of the best divorce lawyers in San Diego, Alan Edmunds and the rest of the team at The Edmunds Law Firm have the expertise to guide you through even the most challenging divorce. We will answer all your questions to your satisfaction and will probably offer you help on topics you haven’t even thought of yet. For a consultation, don’t hesitate to contact us.