It is important to understand that each attorney is different and therefore each attorney will have their own specific process for each of their consultations. Some attorneys will want you to fill out information prior to the consultation and also to discuss with the attorney specific background information that the attorney will need to know. Therefore, please understand that each attorney’s initial consultation is different and most of your specific questions should be answered during the attorney’s specific questioning that they have done hundreds/thousands of times with other people.
Here are some questions to ask during your divorce initial consultation:
1) Do you an area of practice that you focus on?
If the attorney does not focus on divorce and family law matters, you may want to follow up with – have you ever handled a divorce before?
2) How long is the range that a case like this could last?
Again, the attorney is in no way a fortune-teller and cannot predict the future of how long your case will last with your specific set of circumstances, but if they can tell you a range; this may help you have a handle on the situation if you have approximate timeframe that the attorney has seen in their experience.
3) If I forget to ask you something today during the initial consultation, can I call later to ask a question, or would I have to pay for another consultation?
Generally, I do not personally charge another consultation fee if a client has another question after the consultation, but some attorneys may charge and may need to see the potential client again. A reason why could include that a great deal of time may have passed and circumstances could have changed. Overall, it can put you at ease if you know that you can call later if you forget something during the consultation. During the consultation, you will be hit with a great deal of information and as it is also a confusing and emotional time, sometimes people can forget to ask all of the questions they have during their initial consultation.
4) What is the law in the state of Florida on: Parental Responsibility, Time-sharing, Parenting Plans, Child Support, Alimony, Equitable Distribution of Assets and Liabilities and Attorney’s Fees?
Depending on what the issues in your case are, it is very important to know what the basic boiled down approach of the law is in some of the important areas of your case. Right from the start. It may not be the appropriate time to go into the minutiae of the law and specific cases, etc. But it is helpful know the State’s view on certain areas of divorce law so you can start understanding the process you are about to undertake.
5) What about the law applied to my situation? What can I ask for? What should I ask for?
Your attorney will begin the process of analyzing your situation as soon as you provide back the new client questionnaire. As you are speaking to him or her, they will start to formulate how they wish to approach the case. As each lawyer’s approach may differ, sometimes there is not a right and wrong way to approach it; it may just be one lawyer’s view on the issues. So, feel comfortable with the lawyer’s approach to the case. Try to determine what your own goals are and if they are reasonable from the attorney. Any attorney can promise you the world, but if it is not realistic and they are only reciting back to you what you want to hear, then that may not be helpful to you in your divorce proceeding.
6) Are there any timeframes/deadlines that I need to know about?
This is very important as certain situations call for certain timeframes and deadlines. Speak more with your attorney about the specifics related to your case.
7) How much is the initial retainer for my case?
Lawyers have different retainer amounts for different cases. Some attorneys ask for a refundable retainer and some ask for a non-refundable retainer. Some retainers can be split up into a payment plan at some offices. The amount is really an important aspect of the consultation. This attorney will let you know at the end of the consultation as they will need to know your full situation before quoting you a retainer.
8) What is your hourly rate?
There is no set hourly rate for divorce lawyers in Florida. Each Divorce lawyer sets their own hourly rate, or it is set by their firm. Therefore, you need to know the hourly rates of the attorney and each member of the firm that may be billing on your case.