When hiring a divorce lawyer to handle your family law case, you are most empowered when you are informed. Your attorney is by far the best source of information accessible to you in your divorce case. But the common problem is not knowing the best questions to ask in the first place. As the saying goes, ‘You don’t know what you don’t know.’
To help get as much information as you can within a short amount of time, we’ve compiled some of the best questions to ask an attorney during an initial divorce consultation. Read through this list and even download or print it out so you can tackle the messy divorce process with poise.
General Questions For A Divorce Attorney
Some of the most common questions include: "So what's this divorce really going to cost me?" or "How often should I really plan on hearing from you?"
While we can offer some basic answers to some of these more general questions, you will still want to get answers from your attorney about these consultation questions related to your specific case - because it can vary widely.
What is the standard divorce procedure in Colorado?
Your attorney will be able to go into more detail into the standard divorce process in your state and relevant divorce laws, but we have some general information on what it might look like in the Denver Area. Colorado is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that either of the parties may initiate a divorce if they feel it’s the best course of action. The only limitation is that one spouse must have resided in Colorado for at least 91 days. The requirement is 182 days if children are involved.
Afterward, the divorce proceedings follow a predetermined route:
- One party files with the courts.
- The respondent must reply within 21 days.
- Divorce proceedings take a minimum of 91 days.
- Once all matters are settled, the court grants an order of divorce.
- You can then collect your divorce decree or file an appeal.
In my case, is a divorce or legal separation better?
A divorce is the permanent end of a marriage. A legal separation allows a couple to remain married, but live separately. Their assets will be divided and maintenance and/or child support may be granted to either party. The difference is that a legal separation may be ended when both parties agree to reconcile or be later converted into a formal divorce. Your lawyer will be able to let you know which pieces of your unique case will come up when you're considering a divorce or a legal separation.
How long will it take to get divorced?
In Colorado, divorces take a minimum of 91 days. Depending on whether your divorce will be contested or uncontested, the matter can take between four to twelve months on average.
In the case of a contested divorce, what is the process of dividing marital assets?
When a couple disagrees on settling their case, it is a contested divorce. The next few questions are god to ask your lawyer if you think matters might not go smoothly with your soon-to-be-ex. In general, property and assets obtained after the marriage are marital property. Courts will divide these assets equitably based on value. The same goes for debt acquired during the marriage.
Is spousal support (alimony) appropriate in my case?
Many factors influence whether you should expect to receive spousal support such as:
- Each party's earning capacity and abilities
- Contributions to the career and/or household
- The total duration of the marriage
- Pre-existing arrangements, formalized in a prenup (if any)
An experienced family law attorney can advise you on your options after seeing your case.
Who will make court appearances if necessary?
Usually, your lawyer will make court appearances in cases that go to court. You will also be expected to attend, in some cases. It’s best to inquire separately with your selected divorce attorney about their standard scope of representation and the costs of it (hourly, retainer, fixed-price).
More questions to ask your lawyer about divorce
- What is your fee structure?
- What is the scope of representation?
- Will I have to pay my spouse's attorney fees too?
- Do you practice collaborative divorce?
- Do you think we can mediate or go to trial?
- How much do you think my divorce could cost?
- Is there any way to make it less expensive?
- How much time will my divorce take?
- How often will we communicate about my case?
- What are your past experiences with cases such as mine?
Documents you can prepare and bring to your meeting
- Personal and business tax returns (up to 5 years)
- Proof of your and your spouse's income.
- A prenuptial agreement (if any)
- Bank statements, demonstrating your personal and shared financial assets
- Completed financial statements
- Any type of personal/joint insurance certificates
- Documents showcasing personal/shared debt
- List of personal and jointly-owned property, owned by each party
- Wills (if any)
Other key issues to be prepared to discuss:
- Property — all matters related to personal and jointly-owned real estate.
- Spousal support — you may need to provide your attorney with evidence to help them prove that you are entitled to alimony.
- Child custody and support — be ready to state your preferences for custody, visitation, and discuss any other special arrangements.
- Violence and abuse — be forthcoming about any past issues of violent behavior, so that your attorney could file for a temporary order to protect you (if such is needed).
If you're filing for divorce and on the path to potentially hire an attorney in the Denver Area, Katie Tolison is always committed to helping you get what you need in the divorce process. Learn how she would answer these questions for your case by reaching out to schedule a time to talk with her today!