No matter the circumstances, seeking a divorce is always a tough decision to make. Divorces are life changing events for the spouses and their families and there is a lot you need to do and process once the decision to split has been made. One of the most important things you have to do after you have decided to get a divorce is hire a divorce lawyer.
The outcome of a divorce proceeding can have a major impact on your life which is why hiring a divorce attorney is not something that should be taken lightly. You need to make sure you find a qualified, experienced family law attorney who can also communicate with you effectively. When it comes to legal proceedings like a divorce, it is easy for people to be confused as to what is going on. Hiring a divorce attorney who will openly communicate with you is important to ensure that you understand what is going on through every step of the process.
It is also important to make sure that you hire a divorce attorney who is well versed in all matters of family law. Depending on the situation, divorce cases can become complex as child custody, child support, division of property, spousal support, and restraining orders are all potential issues that can arise. Therefore, you need to work with an attorney that understands the current laws surrounding things like spousal and child support and child custody.
Before you hire a divorce attorney, consider all of the issues that might come into play, such as child custody, spousal support, and property division. Make sure to look for an attorney that has experience dealing with these specific matters. You should also put together a list of questions to ask an attorney before hiring them so you can know what to expect from them and from your case.
Questions to Ask a Divorce Attorney
It is important to ask the right questions during your first meeting with a divorce attorney to ensure that they are the best fit for your case. The following are some of the questions you should ask.
What is your experience as a family law attorney?
It is important to determine right away if the attorney has experience dealing with matters of family law. A reputable family law attorney should have experience when it comes to child custody and support, spousal maintenance, division of property and assets, and restraining orders. They should also be well versed in the laws concerning these matters and stay up to date on the latest changes in these laws.
Ask the attorney if they specialize in family law and about their experience in divorce cases. You can also ask how long they have been practicing family law as well as how many cases they have handled. It is best to work with an attorney that specializes in family law and has experience with all types of cases.
How will I be billed?
You might as well get this issue out of the way quickly because your budget will likely play a major role in who you choose to hire. Ask about their initial retainer, hourly rate, and payment structure. You can also ask what other costs you can expect during the case such as costs for private investigators, physicians, forensic accountants, etc.
Don’t forget to discuss how you can save on some fees. For example, it might cost you less to reach out to the attorney once each week with your questions about the case instead of reaching out to them daily to answer your questions. The attorney can also advise you on whether the potential benefits of pursuing litigation on a certain issue are worth the cost.
How much will my divorce cost?
If you are curious, you can ask for an estimate on the total cost of the divorce, but keep in mind that this is not easy to answer. The total cost will depend on how the process plays out. There may be additional costs for things like private investigators, mediators, and expert witnesses and it will also cost more the longer the process takes. Uncontested divorces tend to cost less because the issues involved are sorted out quickly.
If you ask the attorney for an estimate on the total cost, they will likely explain to you why that is difficult to predict. If an attorney answers this question by giving you an estimate that seems too good to be true, then they are just trying to get your business.
What are the communication rules?
As mentioned above, it is very important to communicate regularly with your attorney to stay updated on your case. However, attorneys are not always available to take phone calls and each call with the attorney costs you money.
Ask the attorney what their rules are for communication including how often you should communicate and when the best time is to talk. Determine what you should do if there is an emergency and you need to get ahold of the attorney. You can also ask if the attorney will work with you to schedule your communication times in a way that saves you on fees. Having a communication schedule in place from the beginning will make the process much smoother as you and the attorney will know what to expect.
How will you handle my case?
Depending on the law firm involved, your case may be handled only by the attorney you hire, or by a legal team within the firm with the hired attorney acting as the lead attorney. In the latter scenario, the lead attorney will manage the case and delegate certain duties to others within the firm in ways that can benefit you. For example, a certain motion or response might be written up by a different attorney within the firm with more experience on the particular issue.
If the attorney will take the collaborative approach, ask who will be working on your case and if you can meet with them. You can also ask about their experience and how working with them will affect your fees.
What is your strategy for my case?
Once the attorney understands the facts of your case and your goals, they should be able to come up with a strategy. A good family law attorney will work in your best interests, and especially in the best interests of your children.
Don’t be afraid to ask about various strategies and the benefits of each, as well as what you can to do help. The attorney should be willing to work diligently to obtain a favorable outcome to your case.
Can you find a way to avoid going to trial?
Many divorce cases will end in a settlement without going to trial, but there are unfortunately some divorce cases that do go to trial. Going to trial will lengthen the divorce process and cost you more money. It is usually in everyone’s best interest to reach a settlement and avoid going to trial.
Ask the attorney how they plan to avoid trial. The attorney should work to get a fair settlement while protecting your interests, but they should also prepare for the possibility of going to trial. You can also ask the attorney if it is beneficial to negotiate directly with your spouse to help reach a settlement and avoid trial.
How can I expect my property and assets to be split?
Illinois is an equitable distribution state in which property and assets are divided in a way that is deemed fair and reasonable. This means that many factors will be considered in the division of the property. You can ask the attorney how you can expect your property to be divided and how they plan to approach property division based on what they know about your assets, your spouse’s assets, and your shared assets.
You and your spouse are expected to fully disclose your property, assets, and debts during the process. It is in your best interests to disclose everything to the attorney as shielding assets may be illegal. The attorney should be able to work with you to protect what’s yours and ensure a favorable division of property.
How will we approach issues of child support and child custody?
Any matter involving children in a divorce including child support and child custody is a sensitive matter. The courts in Illinois believe that it is in the best interests of the children to be able to maintain a good relationship with both of their parents after the divorce.
Ask the attorney about the best approach to take to resolve a child custody dispute. It may be best for you and your spouse to come to an agreement on custody outside of court and the attorney can advise you on how to best achieve that goal. If there is a chance the child custody dispute could go to court, the attorney should build a case to show that you have an active role in your child’s life and that you can spend time with them on a consistent basis and make decisions concerning their well-being.
With matters of child custody, there is also likely to be child support involved. Ask the attorney if they expect you to have to pay child support, or if you can get child support payments depending on your situation. They should be able to advise you on the best way to get child support payments, or the best way to lower your child support payments.
How will we approach the issue of spousal maintenance?
In marriages in which the spouses make different incomes, the spouse with the lower income lives a higher quality of life in the marriage than they would outside the marriage. When a divorce occurs, the spouse with the lower income is seen to be at an economic disadvantage and spousal maintenance helps to compensate for the disadvantage.
If you believe you should get spousal maintenance, ask the attorney how they would approach the issue to get you a fair payment. If you may end up paying spousal maintenance, ask the attorney how they can help you ensure that your payments will be reasonable.
Contact the Divorce Attorneys of Allen Gabe Law, P.C.
Divorces are difficult, life changing situations and the way the process plays out can affect your life and the lives of your children for years to come. This makes it important to hire a divorce attorney who is experienced, knowledgeable, and ready to work diligently in your best interests. Asking the questions discussed above will help you hire a reputable family law attorney that can represent you through the divorce process.
At Allen Gabe Law, P.C., our divorce attorneys are experienced in all matters of family law including matters concerning child custody and support, spousal maintenance, property division, and more. Our attorney can represent you through your divorce proceeding and work to secure favorable outcomes that are in the best interests of you and your children.
You can call Allen Gabe Law, P.C. at (847) 241-5000, Ext 121 or submit a contact form to talk to one of our family law attorneys.