Divorce. It is often emotional and personally challenging. It can be an unhappy time where emotions run high and tempers flare easily. You may have children and the process can be very stressful for them. In the midst of your family’s disruption, now you must make the hard decision to hire a divorce attorney to dissolve your marriage. Today’s blog from Neale & Newman discusses the questions to ask a divorce attorney before hiring one.
How long have you been practicing family law?
An attorney may have experience in several types of legal practice. It can ease your mind to learn more about your potential attorney’s type of practice, including his or her experience with different issues that may be specific to your divorce. Do you have child custody, child support, and visitation issues? What about matters of spousal maintenance (or alimony), a family business, retirement plans or pensions, or significant assets and debts? Discuss your specifics with your potential attorney to learn more how your matter may look as you proceed.
What costs do you expect to be involved?
How soon your case settles, either in or out of court, will likely determine your overall costs. You will need court filings for sure, including the initial filing for the dissolution of marriage in court as well as exchange of information between the parties for a larger picture of what’s to be divided. The Court may order mediation as an attempt to resolve some (or all) of your details for the divorce. If children are involved, there are issues of child custody, visitation, and child support. With children, the case will likely take longer versus a case without children. If your divorce goes to trial, you can expect the overall expenses to increase due to more time by your attorney collecting evidence, filing motions, and preparing legal arguments. A divorce attorney can outline the various issues, potential outcomes, and possible timelines for your specific situation.
How do you collect your fees?
Divorce attorneys may charge a fixed fee or hourly fees. A retainer or deposit may also be involved in hiring an attorney. Be aware that some divorce cases may last for more than a year, depending on how contentious the case becomes among all parties involved. Talk with your divorce attorney about how they charge and handle legal fees.
How will you communicate with me?
Talk with your divorce attorney about how he or she responds to your communications. Is it through phone calls, emails, or another form? Share with your attorney if you have a communication preference.
Will I be able to negotiate directly with my spouse?
Negotiating directly with your spouse largely depends on the contentiousness of the divorce. Doing so may or may not be in your best interest. Experienced divorce attorneys can anticipate certain behaviors from various types of people. In other words, “We’ve seen this before, and we can help you get through it.”
How will this divorce affect me financially?
In addition to dividing assets and debts in a divorce, there can be other items that impact you financially. There may be child support involved. There may be matters of spousal support, known in Missouri as maintenance (alimony). Our attorneys are experienced divorce attorneys who understand Missouri law with regards to both types of support and they can advise you on potential outcomes.
How do you expect this case to play out?
So much of how your scenario will look depends on the players—including the spouses and their attorneys—in addition to your details. A non-contentious and straightforward divorce can be resolved in a matter of a few months if everyone works together towards that end. Highly contentious cases can unfortunately stretch on for years. Most cases, however, fall somewhere in the middle. In those, there are often important issues and interests relating to your children or family assets, but they can be addressed and resolved with experienced guidance. Attorneys with experience in family law can tell what may happen after seeing the details of your case.
Divorce Attorneys at Neale & Newman
The experienced divorce attorneys at Neale & Newman understand that divorce is a complicated situation, both emotionally and financially. We’re here for you and can give you the best recommendations for moving forward. Contact Neale & Newman or call (417) 670-2520 for more details on our family law process.