Deciding to speak to a divorce lawyer can feel like just as big a step as speaking about divorce in the first place. You might be feeling overwhelmed and nervous at your first meeting, which is why we suggest spending some time preparing beforehand. You might want to collect your paperwork, as well as plan out some of the questions you want answered.
Here are some of the most useful questions we recommend speaking to your divorce lawyer about:
1. How long will it take to get divorced?
Clients are often worried that the divorce process will be drawn out, stressful and combative. Here at Richmond Tymchuk Family Law, we emphasize the importance of collaborative family law to create a cooperative environment between the parties.
Generally speaking, where the parties are able to cooperate, the process can be quicker.
It’s important to note that there are 3 possible grounds for divorce:
- Separation for a period of one year
Most clients we see use the one-year separation route. The spouses must have lived separate and apart for no less than one year to obtain a Divorce Judgment, but the divorce action can be started at any time following separation prior to the expiry of one year.
2. What was the outcome in another case like mine?
You might feel like your situation is totally unique, and has special circumstances. While that might be the case, you might also be surprised at the breadth and scope of cases we’ve seen at Richmond Tymchuk Family Law. You might find it reassuring to ask your divorce lawyer if they’ve dealt with a situation like yours before, so you can get the comfort you need that you’re dealing with an expert.
It’s important to remember we cannot divulge specifics about another case as that’s covered by client confidentiality, but we can give you an idea of what was involved and what the outcome was.
3. What will the ongoing relationship with my ex need to be like?
Once you’re divorced, will you need to still speak to your ex? This question is one which is important and people often forget to consider. If there are children in the marriage, you will probably have some ongoing relationship with your ex to arrange visitation and financial obligations, for example.
Remember to focus on the future - while you’re going through the divorce, everyone’s emotions might still feel quite raw. This could cloud how you feel about having to deal with your ex in future. However, an amicable divorce can be a good outcome for all parties.
4. What about the children?
It’s important to remember that child custody is not a given, and is something which needs to be discussed between the parties and the children. The key factor to consider is “what are the best interests of the children?” Speak to your divorce lawyer about your wishes for custody, especially if you think you might want to seek sole custody.
Please note that in March 2021, the terminology of “custody” was removed from Alberta law, and now refers to “parenting” and “decision-making responsibility”.
5. What will the divorce costs be?
It’s easy to try to avoid thinking about the costs of divorce, but it’s important to know what the costs could be as early as possible. In your first meeting, ask your lawyer for a guide as to what the fees will be, and how they bill. For example, some lawyers will bill by the hour.
If costs are a concern, you’ll want to consult our post about how to have an affordable divorce and keep lawyer’s fees in check.
6. Who will be working on my case & how often will I get updates?
Once you’ve decided on the lawyer you want to represent you in your divorce, you’ll also want to ask who else in the firm will be working on your case. Legal assistants might be working on your case alongside the lawyer.
How often you’ll get updates depends on a whole range of factors - like how much paperwork you’re able to provide upfront, how quickly you want the case to progress, for example. That being said, asking for an idea of how often you’ll hear from your lawyer can help give you reassurance that things are progressing.
7. What paperwork do you need me to provide?
Ask your lawyer what you can provide to make the divorce process easier. They might need to see detailed bank account statements, for example. If you can get a clear idea of what they need, and arrange your documentation quickly, it will help matters proceed.
Thought of other questions you’d like to ask? Then arrange a consultation with Richmond Tymchuk Family Law to discuss your divorce questions. We’re happy to help.