Separating from a person who once had been your significant other certainly can be a difficult experience. The legal process associated with the separation can make the process all the more exhaustive.
To help you better make it through the challenging transition and get the most optimal outcome out of your divorce, it is vital that you hire a good divorce attorney. But, finding the right one that best fits your requirements isn’t easy. In this article, we have compiled a list of some important questions to ask an Illinois divorce lawyer to better assess whether they are worth hiring.
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1. How long have you been practicing family law?
When it comes to handling legal matters, there are some things that a lawyer simply learns through study. Experience matters a lot, especially in deciding the outcome of highly contested cases. Having a seasoned lawyer that is well-experienced in dealing with family-law-related cases is vital to ensuring that your divorce case process goes through smoothly and the outcome is kept in your favor.
2. Who will actually be handling my case?
Often the case in the larger law agencies, the experienced attorney that is your point of contact might not actually be the one presenting your case. Instead, it could be some less experienced young lawyer under their supervision.
Because the consequences of a divorce outcome are something that likely will impact you for years to come, having a ‘rookie’ lawyer on your case isn’t something you can afford. Always consider asking who actually will be on your case so to avoid being tied to the wrong attorney.
3. What is your fee structure?
Different law agencies host different fee structures. Some charge a fixed fee while others charge by the hour and may even differ in what constitutes a work hour. Some have the same fees for in-court and out-court work while others have different rates.
It is always a good idea to have a full understanding of a law service’s fee structure so it doesn’t end up costing you a fortune over the long. It is not uncommon for divorce cases to drag on for months or even years and that, in turn, can translate to potentially massive legal fees if you are not careful.
4. Do you know the judges in the county where the case will be filed?
Judges are supposed to be unbiased custodians of the law but this, unfortunately, isn’t always the case. Some will favor those attorneys that they know and deal with all the time. Ask the attorney about the details of any previous cases that he had handled at the court overseen by the same judge that will be present at your divorce case. It’s also a big plus if they work from the same county as your divorce court.
5. Do you handle cases other than divorce and family law?
Divorce cases can be highly complex and ideally, you would want to have a lawyer on your side who specializes in that one area. If a lawyer is also involved in other areas of law as well then likely, neither might they be as focused on divorce cases nor have extensive experience in dealing with them compared to one that deals in them exclusively.
6. How many cases did you take to trial in the past 12 months?
If you think that your divorce case is likely going to be contested then you should opt for a lawyer that possesses the energy and experience to fight for you on trial. Ask your would-be lawyer about how many cases he took to trial in the last 12 months. There is no magic number to seek after but if the figure is really low, you are likely better off looking elsewhere.
7. What is the process of dividing marital assets?
How marital assets are divided is largely dependent on the local state law. In Illinois for instance, martial asset allocation can be a relatively complex process. The court will take into account a dozen or so different factors set out by the law to distribute the assets between the two parties “equitably”.
It is important that you ask the lawyer to walk you through the marital asset allocation process so that it can be carried out more smoothly and that there are fewer risks of any biased claims being made.
8. Have you ever been in trouble before with the bar association?
Sure, it may feel impolite to ask but it’s your life outcome here on the line here with the divorce case. It is your right to know whether a lawyer has been in trouble with the Illinois Bar Association before. If their answer is yes, this shouldn’t be taken as an immediate disqualifier. Critically evaluate the details of what got them into trouble and then decide whether it might arise as a problem for you with your divorce case.
9. Do you have any high-profile cases on your docket?
It is not uncommon for some lawyers to overcommit themselves and take on your case even though they don’t have the proper time to manage it. Of course, asking them directly might not yield you the right answer. Rather, approach the question indirectly and inquire about what high profile cases they are currently handling. This way, you’ll really know whether they commit the necessary time and energy in your case or not.
10. How will you communicate about the case?
In your divorce proceeding, communication between you and your lawyer is key to a higher chance of successful outcome. Therefore, it is essential that you ask such questions to ensure that the communication between you two will go smoothly. In your inquiry, you should ask:
- How often will you be contacted?
- What is the typical turnaround time for a return call?
- What will be our primary mode of communication? E.g. phone, email, in-person or video chat
- Will I be communicating with you directly or through your team?
These are some great questions to ask an Illinois divorce lawyer. However, the more questions you ask, the better you will be able to decide whether a certain lawyer is worth hiring or not. Remember, it is your future that will be impacted in the divorce so you take every step needed to ensure the outcome goes favorably for you.
At Tommalieh Law, we are dedicated to serving our clients in the Orland Park area. We have years of experience and success in helping people with family law matters. Contact our family law attorney today to schedule your FREE consultation.