In matters of family and divorce law, initial consultations are often very important. This is where you will likely meet your Divorce Attorney for the first time. In advance of the meeting, the attorney or his or her staff likely advised you of some basic documentation to bring, such as your most recent W-2’s and tax returns. Now the initial consultation day has arrived, and you are ready to discuss your case, have your questions answered, and determine the appropriate next steps to take. Most attorneys do not offer free consultations for divorce matters, so make sure you ask some or all of the following eight questions to make sure you get the most out of your initial consultation.*
- Overall Firm Strategy – What is the overarching firm strategy, philosophy or personality. Some firms like to be known as aggressive. Other divorce attorneys pride themselves on their negotiation skills. Does the attorney suggest mediation or litigation as a first move? Mediation is the less-aggressive and often times less expensive method. Many attorneys will suggest trying mediation first, with litigation as a fall-back option. Likewise, many clients have their own thoughts as to the proper disposition of their case. As the rapport between a client and their attorney is more important in family law than in most types of practice, the alignment of you and your prospective attorney’s ideals may prove quite important as the case moves on.
- Divorce Attorney’s Rate – For most clients, knowing the divorce attorney’s billable hour will also be an important factor when choosing an attorney.
- Cost – Likewise, a client may want to review the estimated/anticipated overall cost of the divorce. One caveat: in divorce cases, the legal costs are largely dependent upon how quickly the parties can reach and finalize an Agreement. Accordingly, an estimate will often-times be just that–and the actual cost may be significantly lower or higher depending upon a number of factors.
- Who Will Be Working on the Case? – In a solo law practice, it’s pretty clear who will be handling your case. Other times, however, two or more attorneys may be handling your case. Some clients will see multiple attorneys as a plus and others as a negative. Others still won’t care either way, provided that the work product is good. If this is an issue for you, then it’s worth clarifying just who will be handling your case.
- Experience of the Attorney – You’ll likely be curious as to the attorney’s experience with your type of matter. If so, you should feel comfortable discussing this issue with your attorney prior to retaining him or her.
- Areas of Practice – Likewise, you’d be well served to ask the attorney his or her basic areas of practice. Some clients favor retaining attorneys who limit their practice to one or a few areas of law. Experience goes beyond age and the amount of years in practice, it also relates to how long an individual attorney has been practicing in a specific area of law, and what percentage of their practice is devoted to that type of law.
- Retainer Amount and Retainer Agreement – The vast majority of divorce attorneys will require a retainer agreement. The retainer amount will depend on the nature of the matter, the firm’s billing practices, and other additional factors. This can be a stumbling block for many clients. If so, it is often-times better to recognize this early on, so the potential client can find another attorney with a retainer agreement more in line with his or her available income/assets.
- Range of Outcomes – Just as an estimate of cost is quite preliminary, a discussion of a case’s likely outcome is also somewhat premature at an initial consultation. That said, many attorneys will discuss a range of likely outcomes. For instance, the attorney may review a range of alimony or child support amounts, or discuss the likelihood of success should you file a certain type of Motion.
Your initial consultation is an important meeting, and will often set the tone for the rest of your case. With these questions in mind, you should be prepared to have a productive initial consultation with your prospective New Jersey divorce attorney.
*These questions form a baseline of the types of questions that should be addressed during a productive initial consultation with a New Jersey divorce attorney.
Contact Carl Taylor Law, LLC
If you are the Plaintiff or Defendant in a domestic violence matter, Carl Taylor Law, LLC stands ready to meet with you, answer any questions you may have, and assist you through the process. If you’re considering a New Jersey divorce or Family Law action contact me to discuss your options. You can schedule an initial consultation by calling my office at 908-237-3096 or by scheduling your own divorce consultation.