Are you considering separation or divorce? Join us as our Edmonton family law expert shares with Canadians the most important questions to ask your divorce lawyer on the first meeting.
There’s no question that navigating the waters of separation and divorce is a challenge. When it comes to seeking legal representation, ensuring you are prepared for the first meeting with your divorce lawyer will definitely help smooth out the process, and these thoughtful questions should do just that.
Let’s dive in –
1. How many years of experience do you have handling divorce family law cases?
When it comes to sensitive issues such a separation or divorce, there is definitely something to be said for experience. Lawyers who have been dealing with cases within a specific area may better understand how to go about things and may be able to provide unique insight that can help you.
Understanding the experience that the divorce lawyer you are considering hiring has may be a very helpful consideration for you in the process.
2. Do you have experience with any cases similar to mine?
Forrest Gump may have been on to something when he famously declared that life is like a box of chocolates. We truly don’t ever know what we’re going to “get”.
Just as each individual is very different, each marriage and family is different, too. Some separations or divorces involve children, some involve already blended families, long distance and a vast array of other complex conditions.
A lawyer who has experience in dealing with cases that are similar to your situation may be beneficial.
3. Are you a registered collaborative family lawyer?
In Alberta, the Collaborative Divorce Alberta Association is an organization of professionals who are trained to achieve fair and respectful divorce settlements. While some family law lawyers have received this training, others have not.
4. What is the collaborative family law process? Is it something that may be effective in my situation?
5. Will you personally be working on my case?
6. Do you have a team or any associates that will be working with you on this case?
Law firms, just as many other businesses and organizations, can vary greatly in size and complexity. Some larger law firms may have you meet with one lawyer initially and then have a different lawyer working on your case at a later time.
When it comes to divorce, some pretty personal details are almost always shared. Understanding whether or not the lawyer you meet with initially will be the one representing you throughout the case is an important consideration you may want to feel confident with.
7. Can you give me an idea of how this divorce process will go?
8. How long will the process of this divorce take?
Unless you’ve been through the process before, divorce can be an overwhelming situation to navigate. A good divorce lawyer should be able to provide you with a good idea of what to expect throughout the process such as the information you’ll need to provide, timelines and court involvement.
9. What is the easiest way to resolve this divorce?
10. Would you consider yourself a more aggressive, or settlement-minded lawyer?
Just as professionals in every field have different ways of approaching their work, lawyers do, too. Some family law lawyers may lean towards a more gentle, reconciliatory style whereas others may have a strong, ‘no holds barred’ approach. Finding a lawyer that suits your personality may help you through the process.
11. What are some things that I need to consider when making a parenting plan?
12. What financial documentation do I need to collect to ensure that we can manage this separation efficiently?
13. Do we need to take any steps to protect the family property from creditors or from being hidden or wasted by the other party?
14. If we try to use a mediator, how can I best use your expertise to make sure I get a fair deal during that mediation?
15. How much do you anticipate my case will cost?
16. What is your fee structure?
17. How much will I need to pay as a retainer?
A retainer is essentially a lump sum payment that is paid to lawyers to secure their future legal services. Retainer fees vary from industry to industry and from professional to professional, and once your initial retainer fee has been ‘used up’, so to say, you may incur additional charges. Understanding where the line is before you get started, is important information for you to have.
18. How will I know once the retainer fee has been used up?
Will someone from the law firm contact you? Or will I simply receive a bill for the additional time without notice?
19. Will I be billed for phone calls or emails with you? If so, how?
Understanding what you will, and won’t be charged for, is an important consideration while going through the divorce process.
20. How should I contact you?
It’s important to understand the most convenient way to get in touch with your lawyer, whether that be via personal e-mail, voicemail, through an assistant or otherwise.
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Owen Kirkaldy is an experienced Edmonton family law lawyer and is a member of the Collaborative Divorce Alberta Association. Are you considering separation or divorce and in need of some trusted legal representation? Get in touch with us today to begin the conversation.