Going through a divorce can be a challenging situation to deal with. Depending on the couple, there are many factors to consider such as property, alimony, child custody and the dispersal of other assets that can often make these breakups difficult.
If this if your first time in this legal situation, let’s take a moment to outline the basic steps that go into the divorce process.
Everything begins when a particular spouse seeks divorce, also called the petitioner, and files a complaint in the appropriate court. Next, a copy of the complaint is served to the other spouse, who is called the defendant. The defendant then has 30 days to file a written response to the complaint.
There are various factors to be resolved that may play a significant role in how long your divorce process will take. Common factors include:
- Property Division – Including money, assets, debts and property accumulated during marriage
- Alimony – One spouse may be interested in alimony, consider this during your filing or response.
- Child custody – Are children involved? Some divorces may require family court which can prolong the legal process.
- Child support – Law requires both parents share responsibility of childrearing up to age 18.
Below are 10 questions to ask when hiring a family law attorney. Making an informed and confident decision on your attorney, can help you resolve your personal matters with ease and satisfaction.
1. Is divorce law your specialty, or just a part of the practice?
Many legal practices have divorce lawyers who may not necessarily specialize in divorce law. Be sure that your practice of hire is an expert in your specific needs and situation.
2. How many years’ experience do you have with divorce cases?
With experience comes wisdom, and for your divorce, inquire about the experience and outcome of cases with your potential attorney.
3. How many custody cases have you handled? Have you represented clients in family court?
Dealing with children during a divorce can be a slippery slope. An experienced lawyer in family court can take the stress out of custody situations.
4. How much will this cost me?
Inquire about hourly fees, retainers, additional services/fees you may run into during the future of case settlement. Make sure that your lawyer is within you budget and is can effectively satisfy your case’s needs.
5. How long does this process take?
In the state of Georgia, many cases can be settled in as quickly as 31 days, others longer depending on various factors. Outline as much of your case to your potential to get a satisfactory timeline on when your case can be completed.
6. Who will be working on my case?
Learn exactly who will be working on your case. You will be sharing lots of personal and private information in efforts to resolve your case, getting to know your attorney directly is key.
7. Describe our streams of communication. How do I get a hold of you if there is an emergency? What do you define as an emergency?
Ask your potential attorney how to get into touch with him/her when immediate situations arise. You may need more personalized or direction attention and need to know how to reach your lawyer if s/he is urgently needed
8. What is your practice’s outlook on mediation vs litigation?
Spouses are able to work out divorce terms on their own in meditation; others require in-court litigation. Know your practice’s perception and outlook on both procedures.
9. Have you handled cases similar to mine?
Ask your potential practice if they are familiar with situations similar to yours to get more comfortable with their level of understanding with the intricacies surrounding your case.
10. What is worth fighting for and what is not?
Experienced lawyers have the oversight to help you think more clearly about amicably and reasonably splitting assets. Don’t be afraid to get your lawyer’s professional opinion during any part of your divorce process.
This list is not exhaustive of all that you should know about a potential lawyer, but it is a starting point to help you make a clear decision on selecting a lawyer of choice. To get started on your divorce case, the first step is scheduling a consultation, where you can talk in more detail about your case and get to know your prospective legal team.