by Amy Saunders
Choosing the right divorce lawyer in Massachusetts can seem as difficult as choosing to leave your spouse. Let’s face it, the last thing people going through a divorce want to hear is more bad news — but your attorney should not just paint a rosy picture. As an informed client, you need to be prepared for everything that might happen so that you can decide how to best handle your case from the very beginning. When you first meet with your lawyer, ask these 9 questions immediately. It will filter out which lawyer is being honest, and who are just trying to get your business.
1. What is my best case scenario in the case? If the Court agrees with all of your positions, what can I expect? (ie what will I get/pay in Child support/alimony)
2. What’s my worst case scenario in this case? If the Court doesn’t agree with anything I say but agrees with everything my spouse says, what do you predict the outcome to be?
3. What’s the realistic outcome of the case ?: Judges often say in a fair divorce nobody is happy–that is the reality of divorce. So ask your attorney what they predict will be the outcome of the case.
4. How long will a divorce take?: Be wary of an attorney who says they can get you divorced right away. In Massachusetts it can takes several months just to docket a divorce. Even if you got a divorce date on day one, it will still take four months for the divorce to be final. Divorces take on average 6 months to a year, depending on the type and can be longer if there are many contested issues.
5. Will you play devil’s advocate?: Pretend for a minute that you are my spouse’s attorney and what arguments could they use; point out the strengths and weaknesses of my/my spouse’s case.
6. What’s your availability?: There is nothing worse than not having access to your attorney, so find out how you can get access to your records/counsel without pulling your hair out. Do you charge for emails, phone call and text message? Be wary of the nickel and dime approach. Divorce is an emotional process and money shouldn’t be a barrier to supporting a rough week or month. Sometimes you just need a shoulder and that shouldn’t cost money. This really takes away from the lawyer-client relationship.
7. Is it worth it to enforce my rights?: Can you quantify the amount of money which is in question? If I enforce all of my rights in this case, as opposed to settling for something less, how will that compare with the legal fees and experts’ fees it will cost to get everything I’m entitled to?
8. What’s the range of cost?: If we went to court, what is the range of cost you’d see, given your experience with prior cases similar to mine, both high and low?
9. What advice would you give to your relative in my position?: See what the attorney would do to advise their own family and friends, make sure the advice is not just based on getting a retainer.
Attorney Amy Saunders, Esq.
Divorce and Mediation Lawyer
Legal Solutions Law Group
858 Washington St Suite 103
Dedham, Massachusetts 02026