One of the things that postponed my steps in filing for divorce was the concern of finding – and paying for – a lawyer. Choosing someone to help fight for your fate and future can be an overwhelming task. As your friend begins searching for an attorney, you can help by encouraging a good interview process that includes asking important questions up front. Here are a few suggestions based on what worked for me.
Where to Start
I began my search by asking friends for referrals, searching online and even using the good ol’ yellow pages. Once I had some names, I began calling down the list. I found that some attorneys offered free consultations, while others did not. I researched online to learn what questions to ask once I did have consultations lined up with a few different lawyers. Not only was I able to get a sense of their experience and how they would handle my case, but I also got a feel for what kind of person they each were and how they would relate to me. It reminded me of looking for a doctor with a good bed-side manner. Since I was sharing the most intimate details of my marriage with this person, it was important that I felt comfortable with the lawyer I chose.
If your friend is a member of the ARAG® Legal Plan, he or she can contact a Customer Care Specialist who can help find an attorney and explain available benefits. For more information:
- Call: 800-247-4184
- E-mail: Service@ARAGgroup.com
Some Questions to Ask at a Consultation:
- How many years have you been working with divorce and family law cases?
- Do you have personal experience that may be helpful in my case?
- Will you be the primary person handling my case? Will I be able to contact you directly?
- How should I communicate with my spouse during this process?
- Will I receive copies of all the paperwork?
- How long do you think this process might take?
- What are your fees per hour?
- Are payment plans available?
- Are there any other expenses I need to know about?
- If a have further questions, who can I call?
I found most lawyers to be very considerate of the fact that I had never gone through the divorce process and that I needed a lot of help understanding what to expect.
What to Avoid
- Don’t let your friend settle for someone inexperienced or who he or she doesn’t feel comfortable with, simply based on a referral or cheaper rates. Divorce is difficult enough without feeling stressed or uncomfortable with an attorney.
- Remind your friend to be realistic about the cost of a lawyer. If it seems as though the couple can agree on most points of the divorce on their own, it might make more sense to fill out and file the papers without lawyers. There are numerous websites that provide information and the appropriate forms at a fraction of the cost.