It may be clear to you that divorce is on the horizon. You may realize that it is only a matter of time and you want to be prepared. For many, being prepared means finding a legal professional who will best represent their interests during the divorce proceedings, both at the negotiating table and, if necessary, in the courtroom. In northern Illinois, there are many divorce and family lawyers and finding the right one is very important.
Choosing a divorce attorney is not like picking up a gallon of milk at the grocery store. Instead, it should be an active decision-making process on your part to ensure you hire a lawyer who understands your situation and is willing to work with you every step of the way. There are some questions to which any prospective choice should be able to provide satisfactory answers, and many firms offer a free consultation to allow you the opportunity to ask them.
Understand the Experience Level
An attorney’s level of experience can tell you a great deal about what to expect in your case. Find out how many divorce cases the firm and the specific attorney have handled. Do many of them go to trial or are they able to be negotiated? This can help you understand the lawyer’s skills as a negotiator. Ask about the specific concerns of your case, whether they are child issues or complex business matters, and get a feel for the attorney’s comfort level in the appropriate areas.
In addition to the skill and experience level, you also need to know how your case will be handled as a practical matter. You may be meeting with one attorney, but you should find out if an associate or another attorney will be assigned to help or, as in some firms, given most of the responsibility. Ask to meet whoever will be assisting. If an attorney is not very forthcoming about such concerns, it could be a sign that your case is not going to be a high priority.
Understanding the expected level and amount of communication is also important. Will the attorney or associate be available to take your calls or will you be repeatedly leaving messages asking for a call back? What is the firm’s current case load? An attorney should be clear about what your reasonable expectations should be.
Handling Your Case
You also need to know how an attorney will respond to your input. It is your divorce and, while your attorney may have the legal knowledge and experience, he or she should be working for you and not dictating the terms of the case. Similarly, ask the attorney about his or her personal feelings on certain issues, such as child custody or spousal support. Since personal biases may unintentionally play a role in how your case is presented, it is helpful to find an attorney whose feelings closely align with your own.
Anyone hiring a lawyer should be clear on the firm’s approach to billing. Find out for sure what the attorney’s hourly rate is, as well as that of any involved associates. Will you often be billed for both simultaneously? Ask about the billing procedure for phone calls or emails. Be certain that any and all fees are clarified, and that the entire billing agreement and fee schedule is laid out in writing. Finally, do not be afraid to ask, based on the attorney’s experience and the foreseeable factors in your case, for a reasonable estimate of costs.
At Kezy & Associates, we know that you have choices when it comes to finding an attorney to handle your divorce. That is why we will sit down with you, evaluate your case, and provide you with honest answers to any questions that you may have about our team and our legal approach. Contact an experienced Orland Park divorce attorney today to schedule your free consultation.