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Choosing Your Divorce Lawyer: Questions to Ask

© 2023 Elinor Robin, PhD

Hiring a divorce lawyer is a big decision. Your sanity and finances may rest on this person’s shoulders for many months (or years) to come. The good news is your coach can help you find the right lawyer.


Please DO NOT hire the first person you see. It may be well worth the cost to pay for consultations with two (or more) lawyers until you find one you are comfortable with, who will treat you right.


If your spouse has already retained an attorney, find out that lawyer’s name. You DO NOT want to hire a lawyer who hates the lawyer on the other side. That will add an additional level of messy conflict. (We want the lawyers to be able to “play” well together.) Likewise, if the other

side is using a lamb, you want a lamb, too. (Works out best in the end.) And, if the other side is using a shark, sadly, you need a shark, too. Finally, if your husband is being an ass, it may be wise to hire a male lawyer. (However, this gender dynamic doesn’t usually play out the other

way. In other words, if your wife is being an ass, she is just as likely to act up whether a male or female attorney is representing you.)


The following are questions to ask a potential divorce lawyer before you retain/hire.

  • How often can I expect updates from you?

  • How long do you think my case will take?

  • Do you have an assistant or paralegal I will regularly work with?

  • What is the best way to communicate with you?

  • How much experience do you have with trials?

  • What is your hourly rate?

  • What is your paralegal's hourly rate?

  • What percentage of your practice is family/divorce law?

  • How long have you been practicing family law?

  • How many family law cases have you handled?

  • How big is your current caseload?

  • How many people in your office will be working on my case? May I meet them?

  • Do you have any vacations (or time off) planned for the next year?

  • If you are out of the office, who will I talk to?

  • Do you answer your phone on weekends?

  • What costs can I expect to pay while working with you?

  • What is your approach (strategy) to divorce cases?

  • Do you practice collaborative law?

  • How long do you take to return phone calls?

  • How can I get a hold of you if there is an emergency?

  • What do you consider an emergency?

  • What is your retainer? At what point will I have to replenish the retainer? Is any part of the retainer refundable?

  • Do you usually settle divorce cases with the other lawyer or during mediation?

  • What percentage of your cases go to trial?

  • What Is the average cost of divorce for your clients?

  • What other costs should I expect to pay (Private Investigators, forensic accountants, vocational rehabilitation experts, etc.)?

  • Ultimately, how much is this case going to cost? (Keep in mind an honest attorney will not want to tell you how much your divorce will cost as there are so many variables. Especially, who the attorney is on the other side. However, this is an important question to ask as it will help you size up the attorney.)

  • Do you encourage/allow me to negotiate directly with my spouse?

  • How can I keep my costs down?

  • Are there tasks I can do myself to keep costs down?

  • Post-divorce, what are the things I will have to do? (File deeds, separate retirement accounts, notify insurance companies, re-do my will, etc.)

  • Based on what I have told you, if we could get in front of a judge tomorrow, what do you think the judge would rule? (Can you give me my best-worst case scenarios?)

  • Can you explain the tax effects of the decisions I will have to make?

  • Are you Board Certified in Family Law?

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