Many people do not realize that most San Jose divorce lawyers will offer a free or low cost initial consultation. Choosing the right divorce lawyer for your case is absolutely critical. Special issues like child custody, alimony, or the division of business assets require an experienced professional who is willing to advocate on your behalf. Therefore, it’s in your best interests that you speak to several different attorneys before deciding who will provide your legal representation.
When preparing for an initial consultation, bring basic information about your divorce such as the name of the other party, the date of marriage, and date of separation. If you have children together, bring a list of their names and birth dates. If there is a Court Hearing approaching, or a Court Order you are concerned about, you should bring a copy of what you were served with to the interview. Tax returns, bank statements, and other documents aren’t needed until you officially choose a divorce attorney to represent you.
The best divorce lawyer is one who has the skills and experience to handle your case. Attorneys who specialize in divorce cases are better able to advocate on your behalf than those who handle all types of legal disputes, so you should ask what the lawyer does and how many divorces he or she has handled in the past.
In addition to asking about your lawyer’s educational and professional credentials, it’s a good idea to inquire if he or she will be handling your file personally. Some law firms have a very impressive attorney at the initial client interview, but after you sign the fee contract your case will be handed over to a new associate. That new associate may or may not have the expertise you desire.
Every lawyer takes a different approach to preparing a divorce case, but it’s best if you’re as involved as possible in the process. Remember, you know the facts of your case, and you should know how the other party will think, act, and react. Do not underestimate the importance of what you know when trying to get a good result in your case. Your lawyer should be providing you with copies of documents and correspondence for your personal records, and you should read them and know what is going on in your case. Ask when you will receive updates regarding the progress of your case. If your lawyer makes you feel uncomfortable when you ask questions, consider choosing different legal representation.
Finally, the initial consultation is the time when you should try to get a feel for whether you can work with the lawyer. If you feel like the lawyer hears you and will help you, then proceed, but if you just do not click then you should consider interviewing another attorney. The initial interview is a good time to discuss the financial aspects of obtaining legal representation. Ask if a retainer is needed and how much it must be. Ask about the attorney’s hourly rate, and whether they have paralegals or secretaries that are at a lower rate. Ask which costs you must pay, like filing fees, or photocopy costs. These are standard questions that any reputable San Jose divorce attorney should be happy to answer for you.