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Twenty Questions to Ask When Choosing Your Divorce Attorney

by Houston Divorce Attorney Sam M. “Trey” Yates, III

Knowing the right questions to ask a prospective family law attorney when you are interviewing lawyers to assist you, can mean the difference between excellent legal representation and possibly mediocre representation.

When selecting legal counsel for a divorce or child custody issue, it is best to choose a Board Certified Family Law specialist who is comfortable both in the court room and at the settlement negotiation table.

Your Houston divorce lawyer should be well versed in the family code statutes where your case will proceed. He or she should be familiar with the unique way the fame is played in the county where your suit is filed and above all, how your particular judge has ruled on issues similar to yours on other cases in the past.

You will also want and attorney who can explain the law or process of divorce or contested custody proceedings in clear terms without a lot of “legal-eze.”

The decision you make regarding the attorney who will travel with you through this is stressful period of your life can have a most profound effect on you and your family long after the litigation is over.

Here is a list of twenty suggested questions to ask when interviewing the attorney to find the one that is right for you:

  1. Do you have any special training or certification in family law and divorce that distinguishes you as a “divorce specialist?
  2. How many years have you been handling divorce and family law cases?
  3. How many years have you been practicing in this state?
  4. Do you have courtroom experience?
  5. How many of your cases went to trial last year?
  6. Do you have experts outside of your firm you regularly work with? (e.g. accountants, private investigators, counselors)
  7. What is your usual or preferred strategy or “philosophy” for handling a divorce case?
  8. Do you recommend mediation to your clients? In what circumstances?
  9. Are you trained in mediation and/or collaborative law?
  10. Do you encourage or discourage direct contact between spouses during divorce?
  11. How long do you think my divorce will take?
  12. Based on what you know about my case, how would you predict a judge would rule on it? Besides yourself, what other people in your firm would work on my case? (e.g. paralegals, associate attorneys)
  13. Will you be the person responsible for negotiating my divorce case?
  14. Who will I meet and talk with most often during my divorce?  You or your assistant(s)?
  15. Will I be able to contact you directly?
  16. What are your fees per hour?
  17. How much is your retainer and how do you bill me for work performed on my case?
  18. In what counties do you normally practice and how often?
  19. Are there any new changes to the law that could affect the outcome of my case?

As in life, there are no guarantees in the law as to outcome, success or cost.

Many variables can influence all of the foregoing.  Be candid with the attorney you are interviewing. The consultation is confidential, so talk about the “bad facts” of your personal situations well as “the good facts.”

Surprise that is the result of a lack of full disclosure on your part with the attorney can have a potentially costly affect on the outcome or cost of your family law matter.

The answers your prospective family law attorneys provided to the foregoing questions should paint for you’re a clear picture on how they will approach your matter and whether or not you feel they are a good fit for you and your family law matter.

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