Filing for divorce can be a trying and emotional experience. It’s one of many reasons choosing the right attorney is the most important decision you’ll make as you get started.
How to decide on a divorce attorney can be a complicated process. Some people research attorneys before hiring one, and others pick the first attorney they find. However you decide, it’s helpful to interview every attorney you speak with. Ask them questions that shed light on their practice philosophies, as well as how they’ve handled previous cases. Hearing what they say can help you decide whom you feel most comfortable with. It may also be helpful to make a “questions for divorce attorney” list. Here are a few important ones to get you started.
Questions for a Divorce Attorney
1. Is Your Practice Focused on Divorce and Family Law?
Some attorneys practice several kinds of law. Others specialize, focusing on one area of law. Because laws change and different courts apply the law differently, it’s essential to find a professional with a lot of attorney experience on divorce who understands the specific ins and out of divorce law and how to navigate the family law legal system. Hiring a skilled divorce attorney with experience tackling complex issues is extremely important, especially if a divorce becomes messy.
Batson Nolan PLC family law attorneys have decades of combined experience representing divorce clients in Tennessee. We’ve helped clients achieve the best possible outcomes as efficiently and amicably as possible since 1860. When you work with one of our Clarksville family legal matters lawyers, you can rest assured you’re working with practiced, qualified attorneys who have handled many cases like yours but who also know that every case is unique.
2. How Long Have You Been Handling Divorce Cases?
It’s good to learn everything you can about an attorney’s background and qualifications. The more experienced they are, the more likely they’ve handled similar cases.
Good questions to ask include what the attorney’s credentials are and how much experience the attorney has with complicated issues like complex property divisions and finding hidden assets. A divorce lawyer knowledgeable in business valuations, stock portfolios, finance matters, tax, debt issues, and hidden assets may be invaluable. You also want to know whether the Tennessee Bar has ever disciplined the lawyer. Feeling sure about the lawyer’s character and competency may help you decide whether to hire them.
3. How Much Will My Divorce Cost?
Divorce costs vary—fees range from lawyer to lawyer and often depend on your case specifics. Ask how much you’ll be charged for legal services and how much the lawyer charges in up-front fees. And be sure to find out what the lawyer’s billing practices are.
Most lawyers bill by the hour, so other helpful questions to ask include what their hourly rate is, whether they bill for every email or phone call, whether they round up minutes, and whether you’ll be billed for their paralegal’s time. Don’t forget to inquire about their firm’s methods for billing time. For instance, some firms charge a higher rate for appearing in court than they do for other tasks. And be sure to ask for a breakdown of what their hourly fees entail.
Other lawyers charge flat fees. If you meet with a lawyer that charges flat fees, ask for a breakdown of what those fees include. Ask whether there will be any “incidental” fees tacked on, such as filing fees or deposition costs. Divorce cases can also throw some unexpected curveballs. Because unanticipated expenses sometimes come up, the best a lawyer can do is give you a ballpark estimate. Our lawyers at Baston Nolan PLC are happy to discuss your costs with you before you sign any agreement for legal representation. We can explain how we bill, when payments are due, and any other extemporaneous fees. Being informed is the first step to making sure you’re comfortable with our services.
4. How Do You Communicate with Clients?
It’s no fun to be left out of the loop, especially when the loop involves your future. If you want a lawyer who can communicate with you regularly and keep you updated, it’s good to set expectations from the get-go.
Ask how often they call, email, text, or send mail. Ask whether they have a team they work with who can answer questions when they’re in court or away on other business. It’s also helpful to know their preferred mode of communication and how quickly they answer phone calls and email. If you want to be informed every step of the way, make sure your lawyer knows how you feel and can live up to those expectations.
5. How Long Will My Divorce Take?
A mutual-consent no-fault divorce takes about two to six months. If there are no children in the marriage, there is a mandatory 60-day “cooling-off” period after a spouse files the complaint. If the couple has children, it takes a minimum of 90 days.
The actual time your divorce will take depends on how many contested issues exist, the level of conflict involved, and the lawyer representing the opposing party. For instance, if your lawyer is hard to get ahold of or doesn’t return calls, your divorce could take longer. Likewise, if the opposing party drags their feet and prolongs the process. Keeping in mind the two-to-six-month period, ask yourself whether you’ll be comfortable dealing with the attorney for that long. It’s important to feel like you not only trust your attorney but that they appreciate your concerns and objectives.
Making a Decision
If you’re looking for a reputable, experienced divorce lawyer in Tennessee, Baston Nolan PLC is happy to answer all your questions. Come talk with us so you can get a feel for our style and values and decide for yourself whether we’re a good fit. Baston Nolan PLC has over 100 years of experience to put to your good use. We are committed to carrying on our reputation for excellence well into the future. Contact us online.