It can be tricky choosing a divorce lawyer. There are sites claiming to be the “Best Divorce Lawyer in Singapore” or “high satisfaction guaranteed”, but how many can you actually believe? Furthermore, lawyers rarely put up their fees, or other important metrics on their site. This makes it harder for users to choose a lawyer that suits them.
There are a lot of questions you could be asking your divorce lawyer, to see if they are a good fit for you. For example, women might prefer having a female divorce lawyer as they feel more comfortable discussing personal issues with them. Having a good ‘fit’ might seem weird to some.
“I’m hiring a lawyer. Why do I need to fit well with them?”. Having a good fit, also known as a good chemistry, understanding or working relationship, will help you avoid switching lawyers halfway through your divorce proceedings. Switching lawyers can add to the length of your divorce proceedings and financial cost, not to mention the hassle of finding a new lawyer.
So then, to ensure a good fit between you and your potential divorce lawyer, we have come up with a few important questions you should be asking them. This list is non-exhaustive and can vary, so if you have any other suggestions of what clients should ask their divorce lawyers, feel free to let us know by leaving a comment.
- Legal Fees
Price can be a deal breaker for some people. They are simply not willing to pay the legal fees quoted by the lawyers, or are unable to afford it. This then, should be one of the first few questions you should ask the divorce lawyer you consulted. Some lawyers charge by the hour, while others can give you a fixed or quoted price for a portion of the case.
You should also ask :
- when payment is due
- if online payment/installments is possible
- Any additional costs? (e.g filing fees)
- Is there a cap on the legal fees? (some firms might place a cap on the fees, and discuss with you what the options are once you’ve hit the fee ceiling)
Find what works for you, and what you are comfortable with.
While i’m here, i’d like to add that all Lawyers listed on LawyerSearch are able to accept online payments via credit/debit cards. This brings about a great deal of convenience as you don’t have to go down to their office physically to pay, and payments can be made 24/7. Not to mention that they offer payments via installments so you don’t have to fork out thousands in legal fees up front.
- Specialisation and experience
The lawyer you consulted is obviously a divorce lawyer. However, you should probe deeper and ask questions like what kind of divorces they have most experience or have a good record in (e.g winning child custody). What kind of clients they usually represent (some female clients prefer to have a female divorce lawyer).
Ask them “who is handling my case?”. This is because for larger firms, they may end up delegating your case to junior lawyers.
I prefer going for smaller boutique law firms as i can be very sure that the main lawyer at that firm will be handling my case throughout. This is purely a matter of preference. Some people like the feeling of being represented by a big law firm, while others like more personal service from a smaller firm. Like I mentioned, i would go for a boutique law firm as i feel i get a more personalised service and lots of face time with the main lawyer.
- Situation Analysis
“What are my options?” should be a question you should definitely ask. There are often a few ways to go about resolving an issue, and it depends on your preference. Ask about custody, division of assets, alimony and other matters pertaining to your divorce.
Also ask your lawyer about the probable outcome of your situation. What are the chances that you might be able to get what you are aiming for?
If your lawyer tells you something you didn’t want to hear, or something that is unfavourable – then that’s a good sign they are being honest, which is what you want. Divorce lawyers have to be upfront and truthful about your situation. False hopes and over-promising rarely ends well.
Also ask what is the expected timeline or timeframe of events i.e when can a final outcome be expected, and so on.
Before you step into the lawyer’s office, prepare questions you’d like to ask them. Why is this important? It’s because this is the best time to manage your expectations about the divorce, and by being face to face, you can get concrete answers.
Additionally, divorce lawyers rarely give out their phone numbers, even those from smaller firms. So don’t expect them to give it to you just because you are a client. They are very busy professionals, and by giving out their phone numbers to all their clients, they’d be doing nothing but answering calls all day. So ask whatever questions you have in the initial meeting.
- Is there anything i should be aware of/do while waiting?
Ask them if there is anything you should know, or do while the lawyers file the divorce papers, etc. Maybe your finances are still not sorted out, or there are documents you need to provide them. Try to get them done yourself, as it can save you money instead of having the lawyer do it for you.
You can also ask them how you are going to communicate with them, and what would be a good time to do so. Many lawyers prefer email communication, and for simple enquiries, one of their staff can usually answer on the lawyer’s behalf.
Bonus : how do you feel after the consultation?
If you don’t feel comfortable with the lawyer, that’s perfectly fine. There are lots of lawyers out there and you’ll definitely find one you’re comfortable with. This is very important, as you have to discuss personal matters with them, and will be working with this lawyer for awhile. You are leaving the fate of your future in their hands. Do not compromise on a good divorce lawyer.