Most New Jersey divorce lawyers offer a free initial consultation for prospective clients. The main reason is to get a general sense of your case so we can help you clarify your goals, identify obstacles and options and offer insight into how we might assist. We also offer potential clients the opportunity to answer any questions they need to feel informed and empowered on how best to proceed.
Choosing the right family law attorney is essential. This is someone to whom you are entrusting your financial future, child custody, the terms of your parenting time and other matters that can have a profound impact on your life now and in the years to come. You don’t need to hire the first divorce attorney with whom you talk to, but you should come to the consultation prepared.
As our East Brunswick divorce lawyers can explain, this means having in hand all the requested documents, recordings, communications and completed questionnaires. It also means having a list of your own questions. Doing so will help you make the most of your time – and choose wisely.
As far as what to ask, everyone’s case is different, but there are some general lines of inquiry that will be helpful in getting you started.
Some that come to our mind:
- Do you specialize in divorce, or is family law just part of your larger practice? There are many attorneys who advertise themselves as “divorce” or “family law attorneys,” when in fact they have little experience in practice. Some tend to think of family law as being less complicated than criminal law or tax law, but it’s actually quite a complicated sub-specialty involving its own complex legal principles. Even within the specialty of family law, there are areas of expertise, such as high net worth divorce or international custody law. It’s important to know that the lawyer with whom you’ll be working knows how to successfully handle a case like yours. If you have few financial matters to settle, no kids and no deep animosity, you may be fine to go with one who has less experience. But otherwise, it pays to have someone who knows exactly how to handle your case.
- What would be your strategy for resolving my case, and how long would it take? It’s in your best interests to know exactly what the game plan is. You also want to get a sense of the timelines associated with your options. That will allow you to set both your time and financial expectations (typically, the longer a case goes on, the more money it will cost).
- How fast do you typically return phone calls or emails? What is your preferred method of contact? If there is an emergency, how should I get a hold of you? In your opinion, what constitutes as an emergency? Communication is something your attorney should go over with you anyway but ask these questions if they don’t. You want an attorney who is responsive, and it may save you significant headaches later, particularly if you have an urgent question or problem.
- How are you going to charge me? What costs, besides attorney’s fees, do you expect to be involved? Can you give me a ballpark total estimate for how much this divorce is likely to cost me? It’s important to know upfront what you’re paying hourly. You also want to ask how the attorney charges if there is help from paralegals or other lawyers at the firm. Get a general sense of what “other” costs may be involved – primarily fees for expert witnesses such as financial accountants, parenting experts, vocational specialists, etc. These can add up quickly, but they may be vital to your case. You may also want to ask for ways to keep the cost of your divorce down, such as collaborative divorce or mediation.
- Based on your experience and what you know of my case, how do you think a judge might rule on key issues? Understand that no lawyer can ever give you a guarantee of any particular outcome (and you should be very wary of any who do). But someone who is highly knowledgeable and experienced in New Jersey family law and divorce cases can provide an informed conjecture based on the circumstances. It may not be necessary to even take your case to court but knowing how a judge might decide the case will give you a better idea of how best to proceed.
This is just a short list, based on some of the most commonly-asked questions we get, but you certainly may have more. Our dedicated East Brunswick divorce attorneys are committed to helping provide you with all the answers you need to take the next step.
Contact us at (732) 810-0034 or email us through our website.