questions to ask before hiring a collaborative attorney

Key Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Collaborative Attorney

As a family law attorney with extensive experience in collaborative divorce, I’ve seen firsthand the transformative power of this process. Collaborative divorce offers a more peaceful, respectful, and cost-effective alternative to traditional litigation. However, to ensure a successful outcome, it’s crucial to find the right collaborative attorney who aligns with your goals and values.

Before hiring a collaborative attorney, I recommend asking yourself the following questions:

  1. What are my priorities in this divorce?

Take time to reflect on what matters most to you. Is it maintaining a cordial relationship with your ex-spouse? Protecting your children’s well-being? Preserving your financial stability? Having clarity on your priorities will help you communicate effectively with your attorney and make informed decisions throughout the process.

  1. Am I committed to the collaborative process?

Collaborative divorce requires a genuine commitment from both parties to work together in good faith. This means being open to compromise, actively listening to each other’s concerns, and prioritizing problem-solving over blame. If you’re unsure about your ability to collaborate or suspect that your spouse may not be fully committed, it’s essential to discuss these concerns with a prospective attorney.

  1. What qualities do I value in an attorney?

Consider the traits that are important to you in a legal advocate. Do you prefer someone who is assertive and direct, or someone who is more nurturing and empathetic? Do you value creativity and out-of-the-box thinking, or do you prefer a more straightforward approach? Knowing what you’re looking for in an attorney will help you find someone who is a good fit for your personality and communication style.

  1. What is the attorney’s experience with collaborative divorce?

Not all family law attorneys have extensive training or experience in collaborative divorce. Look for an attorney who has completed specialized training in collaborative law and has a track record of successfully resolving cases through this process. Don’t hesitate to ask about their specific experience, including the number of collaborative cases they’ve handled and their success rate.

  1. How does the attorney approach conflict resolution?

In a collaborative divorce, the goal is to minimize conflict and work towards mutually beneficial solutions. Ask potential attorneys about their approach to conflict resolution. Do they have experience facilitating productive discussions between parties? Are they skilled at helping clients identify and prioritize their interests? An attorney who is a strong communicator and skilled mediator can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case.

  1. What is the attorney’s fee structure?

Collaborative divorce typically involves a series of meetings with your attorney, your spouse, and their attorney. Make sure you understand how the attorney charges for their services. Some may bill hourly, while others may offer flat fees or retainers. Be sure to ask about any additional costs, such as filing fees or the use of outside experts like financial advisors or child specialists.

  1. How will the attorney keep you informed throughout the process?

Clear communication is essential in any legal matter, and collaborative divorce is no exception. Ask potential attorneys about their communication practices. How often will they update you on the status of your case? What is their preferred method of communication? Will they be available to answer your questions in a timely manner? Knowing what to expect in terms of communication can help you feel more at ease throughout the process.

  1. What happens if the collaborative process breaks down?

While the vast majority of collaborative divorces are successfully resolved, there is always a possibility that the process may break down. In this scenario, both attorneys must withdraw from the case, and the parties must hire new representation to proceed with traditional litigation. Ask potential attorneys about their policy in the event of a breakdown. Will they assist you in finding new counsel? How will they ensure a smooth transition of your case?

In my years as a collaborative divorce attorney, I’ve found that clients who take the time to ask these questions and carefully consider their options are more likely to have a positive experience and a successful outcome. Remember, the attorney you choose will be your partner and advocate throughout this challenging time, so it’s essential to find someone who understands your needs and shares your commitment to a collaborative solution.

If you’re considering a collaborative divorce, I encourage you to schedule consultations with several attorneys to find the right fit. Don’t hesitate to ask questions, share your concerns, and trust your instincts. With the right attorney by your side, you can navigate this difficult chapter of your life with grace, dignity, and a focus on building a brighter future for yourself and your family. If you’d like to talk with me about your situation, you can schedule time with me online.