The questions to ask a divorce lawyer for your case in DuPage County, IL, should cover issues such as the lawyer’s experience with Illinois divorces. It is also important to ask about the attorney’s thoughts on mediation versus litigation and how you can help your own case. Also, ask how the attorney will communicate with you throughout the process.
Why It Is Important to Hire the Right Divorce Lawyer in Illinois
Your attorney can affect your future in many ways. Work with someone who can offer the services to get you the outcome you deserve.
Asking about legal experience ensures your divorce attorney has a track record of success.
What Areas of the Law Do You Focus on?
A divorce lawyer may handle divorce, collaborative divorce, child custody, spousal support, and other closely related areas. However, attorneys may still call themselves divorce lawyers even when cases do not make up much of their caseload. They may also handle, say, wills and probate issues, criminal cases, and personal injury. Attorneys who focus on divorce law are often in a better position to advocate for you.
Can You Handle Multiple Areas in my Divorce?
Divorce frequently involves a combination of issues such as property division, spousal support, and child custody. Divorce consultation questions need to verify that your attorney can readily handle all the issues in your divorce.
Familiarity With Illinois Divorce Laws and Procedures
The divorce laws in each state are different. Your divorce attorney would ideally be well-versed in Illinois laws and procedures.
How Many Years of Experience Do You Have Practicing Divorce Law in Illinois?
It can help your case a great deal when your attorney knows the divorce laws in the area as well as the judges, attorneys, and other court system players. For example, someone who has served clients in the DuPage County, IL, area for many years, likely has a leg up on someone who moved to Illinois last year from another state.
Where Are Most of Your Cases?
Make sure your attorney has experience handling cases in your city, county, or jurisdiction. Personal relationships with judges, lawyers, and others can expedite processes and help with legal strategy.
How Does DuPage County, IL, Handle Divorce Processes? What Can I Expect From the Courts?
If your case is in DuPage County, IL, then hearing attorneys explain the process gives you insight into their experience with the jurisdiction. Look for signs that they are familiar with the judges and procedures in the area. Attorneys should be able to answer this question quickly and confidently.
Understanding the Divorce Process
Each divorce is unique, but common laws and regulations guide the process. Before filing for divorce, ask questions about both your responsibilities and your lawyer’s, and learn more about the alternatives to courtroom litigation.
Outline the Client’s Role and Responsibilities During the Process
Different lawyers have different preferences when it comes to their clients’ roles and responsibilities.
How Can I Help You With my Case?
Cooperation between clients and attorneys can help a case tremendously. Attorneys usually want to know that you can participate actively and already have (or can provide) documents, information, and other necessities in a timely manner.
What Does the Timeline of my Case Look Like? Can You Give me a Checklist of Things I Need to Do and Deadlines to Meet?
An Illinois divorce checklist can keep you on track. Divorce can involve many moving parts and different aspects, and a checklist distills everything into a short document.
Will You Specifically Be Handling my Case?
The attorney you get a preliminary consultation with may not always be the one handling your case. This can happen at law firms with multiple attorneys. Some clients feel disappointed or misled when the person they had a fantastic consultation with is not the one with whom they work.
Who Else Will Be Involved in Handling my Case?
Your attorney may have paralegals help with the case. Experts such as psychologists (common with custody disputes) or forensic accountants (common with high net worth cases to value or uncover assets or determine child support) may come into play at some point, too.
How Will We Communicate, and How Often?
This question sets the stage for your ongoing collaboration with the attorney. Communication may be through daily, weekly, or as-needed phone calls, emails, texts, or other means. Make sure that you and the attorney can communicate in a way that you often use and that is accessible to you.
How Involved Do I Need to Be?
You may not want to attend every court date, preferring to show up for court only when you are required. Likewise, you might prefer to not be in constant contact with your attorney.
What Is Your Billing Like?
Get a clear idea of billing so you can avoid budget issues and understand how the attorney uses retainer fees. This question also gives you insight into any potential expenses associated with professionals such as forensic accountants. Find out how the attorney bills, what for, how much, and when and how you will get these bills.
What Aspects of my Divorce Could Cause the Most Friction, and What Are the Possible Solutions?
Assets can be a major issue of contention in divorces, so it may also help to ask, “When is a divorce high net worth?” An uncooperative or vindictive ex in child custody cases is also fairly common. Knowing what areas of contention you may face can help you be prepared for the fallout of your divorce.
What Should my Next Steps Be?
You should end the consultation with a good idea of what to do next, whether it is to focus on gathering certain documents or simply lie low and stay off social media.
Alternatives to Traditional Divorce Proceedings
Divorce is often associated with courtroom clashes, but adversarial proceedings are less common than some people think. It helps to ask about alternatives because they can save you considerable stress, emotional strain, and expense.
Do You Prefer Trial or Settlement?
The great majority of divorces are uncontested, but some do go to trial. Knowing attorneys’ preferences can give you insight into their strengths and mindset.
What Is Your Experience With Resolving Cases Outside of Court?
With this answer, you should learn how the attorney handles high-conflict, uncontested, and collaborative cases. Many attorneys can get creative to help their clients reach customized solutions.
Client Testimonies and References
How an attorney handled previous cases gives you a great idea of how he or she is likely to handle your case.
Reputation and Professional Standing
Ask questions that verify your attorney is professional and well-respected in the community.
Can You Provide References From Past Clients?
Speaking with previous clients helps you gauge the attorney’s track record and client satisfaction.
What Are Some Success Stories or Notable Achievements in Past Cases?
Attorneys cannot go into great detail on previous cases (for example, sharing names and exact assets). However, they can discuss notable outcomes in cases similar to yours to demonstrate their effectiveness and competence. If you are worried about a jealous spouse who may be alienating the children from you, it can be reassuring to hear your lawyer explain how he or she successfully handled such cases.
Have You Faced Disciplinary Action or Ethical Complaints?
Discussing whether your attorney has a disciplinary history is important. If an attorney has a pattern of complaints, you may want to look elsewhere. To verify what the attorney says, you can search for lawyers’ names at the Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission at the Supreme Court of Illinois.
Relationships With Experts Like Forensic Accountants or Psychologists
Questions to ask a divorce lawyer in complicated cases should relate to the assistance of other professionals. For example, forensic accountants can handle the valuation of businesses, investments, real estate, and other assets using various methods. They can also uncover hidden assets and perform an income analysis to come up with fair numbers for child support and spousal support.
Similarly, psychologists’ evaluations offer insight into the best interests of the child. Vocational experts can be useful, too, in spousal support cases. Other professionals a case may need include child custody evaluators, business valuators, and real estate appraisers, among others.
What Criteria Do You Use When Selecting Forensic Accountants or Psychologists?
You want to make sure your lawyer puts thought into whom he or she chooses to involve in your case, and does not just pick the same person each time from the network without thinking about it.
How Do You Handle and Manage the Costs of Hiring These Professionals?
This question helps with financial planning.