GRAND RAPIDS, Mich (WOTV) – Are you on the fence about whether you should divorce your spouse or stick it out? Weighing the pro’s and con’s is always a good way to help resolve indecision. To do that you will need as many facts and as much knowledge about life on your own and the divorce process that you can get. One of the ways to do that is by scheduling a consultation with a family law attorney.
Sure, most attorneys want potential clients to come in ready to sign a retainer and get going on their case, but many come to gather information to help them decide what to do. A good attorney knows they may come back when the time is right and they have all their ducks in a row. They also know that if you have done your homework you will be less likely to change your mind midstream only to refile months later.
Most family law attorneys offer free consultations. They allot 30 minutes or so to answer questions, hear your situation and advise what they feel is the best solution to your case so come prepared with a list of things you would like answers to. You can expect that they will listen to you explain why you are seeking information about a divorce. They will ask you questions about your assets, your debts, your children, your work histories and your relationship. They will ask you what would like the outcome of the divorce to be. Are you mostly interested in getting your share of the assets or is your primary concern that he will fight for custody of the kids? Basically, they want to know who you are and they are analyzing how difficult or simple your case might be. With this information you will be given their expert advice on how they would proceed.
Once they have listened to your story and the answers to their questions you should have an opportunity to ask your own questions. Think carefully about everything you need to know before you come so you are prepared. [ Will he really get everything and leave you penniless like he keeps telling you?] Ask how long the process will take, but remember a lot of the answers will depend on how cooperative you and your spouse can be in reaching an agreement.
Lastly, be sure to ask about the retainer fee. The retainer is an upfront payment to get your case started and filed with the court. It is usually worked off at an hourly rate and is also used to cover filing fees and other expenses. The retainer IS NOT what your entire divorce will cost unless it is an uncontested, simple divorce. After the retainer is used you will be billed for another retainer or billed hourly for work done on your case so be prepared for that eventuality. Ask what the hourly rate is. The old adage, “you get what you pay for” is often true, but you do need to know what you are agreeing to. If you know you simply cannot afford it, say so. Better to be honest and perhaps get a referral to a more inexpensive, less experienced attorney then to sign a contract you know you cannot pay for.
Armed with the knowledge you have gathered during the consultation you should have a better idea of what a divorce would mean to your lifestyle, your emotional health and your happiness. A little knowledge is a lot of power so don’t be afraid to take advantage of a consultation to educate yourself before you make a huge decision like whether you should end your marriage.
Nothing herein constitutes a legal opinion.