Making the decision to file for divorce is never easy. We understand how daunting it can feel to have to approach a divorce lawyer to discuss formally ending your marriage. That’s why we’ve put together this list of 31 questions to ask your divorce lawyer.
It’s important to note these questions and the information provided are just a general guide and do not constitute legal advice.
1. Will my divorce case have to go through the courts?
The thought of having to go to court on top of everything else you’re going through may seem like just too much. If issues can be resolved amicably between the parties, there’s usually no need for you to go to court although there may still be court proceedings.
2. As a mother, will I automatically get custody of my children? / As a father will my ex automatically get full custody of our children?
When there are children involved in a divorce, this is an important question to ask in order to put your mind at rest. There is not hard and fast rule, the best interests of the children will always be the paramount consideration for the court.
3. Do I have to get divorced in the same country we got married in?
Depending on your circumstances you may be eligible to file for divorce in a country other than the one you got married in. It’s important to note that divorce law differs between countries so your decision could affect your settlement.
4. What are your rates for working on divorce cases?
While cost shouldn’t be the overall deciding factor when choosing a divorce lawyer, it is important for you to get an idea of likely costs in advance so you can budget accordingly.
5. How will I be charged for your services?
It’s also important to know how you will be billed by your divorce lawyer. Will you only have to pay at the end of your case or be invoiced monthly for any work carried out? Or will you have to pay up front?
6. Roughly how long will my divorce take to go through?
Once your lawyer knows the basic facts of your case, they should be able to give you a rough idea of timescale from start to finish based on their experience.
7. Will I have one point of contact for my case throughout the process?
When you’re going through a divorce and paying for legal help, you don’t want the hassle of having to go over old ground and explain things to different people at different stages. Having one point of contact can make things so much easier.
8. Who will actually be working on my case and what are their qualifications?
If you choose a your divorce lawyer because you think they’ll do a good job based on your initial meeting, you’ll probably want to make sure it’s them you’ll actually be dealing with as your case progresses rather than another partner or member of the firm.
9. How much experience do you have in dealing with divorce cases?
Don’t be afraid to ask this question. If you have any doubts or concerns over how experienced your lawyer might be, then make sure you find out the facts to help put your mind at ease.
10. Do you take on Legal Aid divorce cases?
Before approaching a law firm, it’s a good idea to check your eligibility for legal aid. If you think you may be able to get it, then make sure you ask any firm you approach if they work with legal aid clients as not all lawyers do.
11. Does it make any difference if I get divorced in Scotland or England?
The divorce laws in England & Wales differ from those in Scotland so it’s advisable to check with your lawyer where you’re eligible to file for divorce and which set of laws may give you the best chance of the outcome you’re looking for.
12. Can you explain to me in simple terms how the process works step-by-step?
If you’ve never been divorced before, it will be helpful to get an idea of what to expect from the process so you can be prepared for it.
13. How often can I expect to hear from you with updates on my case?
Again, this question is definitely worth asking. For example you may not hear from your lawyer for what seems like long periods during your case, but that may only mean they don’t have any updates for you. If you’d like to have communication more frequently, you should be clear about this at the beginning.
14. Will I be charged for the time spent on the phone to you about my case?
Before entering into any relationship with a provider, it’s good to be clear on exactly what you will and won’t be charged for. For example, if you spend an hour on the phone every week to your divorce solicitor, you should expect to be charged for their time and expertise.
15. Will I get to see all the paperwork associated with my case if I ask for it?
Going through a divorce is a very personal thing and trusting someone to act on your behalf is a big decision. There’s no reason why a lawyer should be secretive about any aspect of your case and the paperwork should always be available if you’d like to see it for yourself.
16. Are there any steps I can take to keep my costs down?
Depending on the state of your relationship with your spouse, there may well be things the two of you can do to keep your legal bills down as much as possible. A good divorce lawyer will be forthcoming with this information.
17. Will I have to pay more in my divorce settlement if I caused the breakdown of the marriage through adultery or other means?
This is a common concern/misconception. Divorce settlements follow a legal framework and you won’t be awarded less because of infidelity for example.
18. What happens if my financial circumstances change after I file for divorce?
This is another question worth asking in order to set your mind at rest. For example, you may get a bonus at work or be made redundant, so it’s good to know where you’d stand if your financial circumstances did change significantly.
19. Do I actually need a divorce solicitor or can I do things myself?
If everything is extremely amicable between you and your (soon to be) ex-spouse, it may be possible for you to go through the divorce process without a lawyer, although this can depend on many factors.
20. How often will I need to come to your offices?
Juggling work, a family and a divorce can really takes its toll on people. If you’d prefer to work remotely with your lawyer, this is a question worth asking at your initial meeting.
21. Can I recover my divorce costs from my spouse?
This may be possible depending on a number of circumstances. If it’s something you wish to pursue, it’s worth asking the question for a tailored response.
22. Should I have any communication with my spouse during divorce proceedings?
There’s no hard and fast rule on this. In some divorce cases it can be beneficial, while in others it can be detrimental to the process. Your lawyer will be able to give you an answer based on your circumstances and their experience.
23. What can I expect if my case goes to court?
A good lawyer will have you well prepared on what to expect if your divorce case does have to go to court. Although they are likely to explore a number of different options for reaching a settlement before then.
24. Will I automatically get 50% of my spouse’s assets as a settlement?
Once your lawyer has the facts on your case, they will be able to give you an answer about the kind of settlement you may receive.
25. Do I actually have valid grounds for a divorce?
Divorce is a legal process that’s taken very seriously. There are qualifying criteria that need to be met before a divorce can go ahead.
26. Should I write a will / rewrite my current will now or wait until after my divorce is finalised?
With around 30 million adults in the UK not having a will in place, this is an important question to ask. Often people want to make a new will when they separate. While they are still married, their spouse can have claims on their estate, even if they’re separated.
27. How should I manage my finances during the case? Are there certain do’s and don’ts I should follow?
You should act fairly while your divorce is going through. Things such as spending jointly held savings on extravagant holidays would not be looked on favourably. It’s wise to ask this to get guidelines on what is and isn’t OK given the circumstances.
28. I don’t have the full picture regarding my spouse’s financial situation, are you able to help with this so I get a fair settlement?
There was a high profile case in the news recently where two women won a Supreme Court fight on the basis that their ex-husbands hadn’t declared their true worth at the time of divorce.
29. My spouse really doesn’t want to get divorced – what are my options?
Depending on your circumstances and which country you’re filing for divorce in, the answer to this question may differ.
30. What happens if we reconcile during the divorce proceedings? Can they be put on hold or cancelled?
If you’re asking this question at the start of your divorce proceedings, you may want to take a bit of extra time to think about whether a legal separation is really what you want.
31. How will our assets be valued so a settlement can be reached?
For your peace of mind you’ll want to know you’re getting a fair settlement. If you’re not sure about how your assets will be valued for this purpose, make sure you ask the question at the start of the process.
These questions will help make sure you go into your divorce case knowing what to expect in terms of timescales, costs and the legal processes.
If you’re looking for a divorce lawyer, contact Fiona using the details below.