If you are going through a divorce, you likely have many questions about divorce law and the process ahead of you. How your divorce or legal separation is handled can have a lasting impact on the rest of your life. Having questions in mind to ask your lawyer can help you navigate this uncertain time and achieve the best outcome for your situation.
Divorce attorneys understand that our clients have a number of questions about the proceedings, their rights, and more. So here we have compiled a list of the answers you can seek when going through a divorce. Make a note of the concerns you intend to raise during your divorce consultation at your local law office.
What to Ask About the Divorce Process
In 2021, there were 689,308 divorces recorded (45 states and DC reporting). Maybe you know someone among this number, which may do anything but lessen your anxiety about the process ahead of you.
Please be assured that understanding what to expect during a divorce case can ease some of the stress and fear you may feel. Experienced family law attorneys can empathize with this and would be happy to give you answers to the following questions during your initial consultation session.
“What information do you require from me?”
You may need help knowing where to begin as you discuss your marriage and why you want a divorce with your lawyer. You can start by asking the divorce attorney what information you should share. Once armed with everything necessary, he or she can then guide you through the process of explaining your marital trials and issues.
“What paperwork will you need?”
The paperwork required in a divorce case can be overwhelming, but your lawyer can make things easier. Your lawyer will provide you with a list of the documents needed for your divorce proceedings. These may include restraining orders, bank account statements, a list of joint assets, or other items. Family law attorneys can assist you in gathering and preparing much of your paperwork.
“What can I expect from the divorce process?”
Each person’s divorce case is unique. However, regardless of your family situation, there are basic steps involved in every divorce case. These steps include filing a divorce petition, determining the grounds for divorce, serving the divorce petition, negotiations, and settlement or trial. Your lawyer will guide you through each stage of the divorce process. You can also ask for an overview of these phases during your initial consultation.
“What are my legal rights?”
Understanding your legal rights – such as how much alimony you may be entitled to or to what extent you can protect your financial resources or property – as you begin the divorce process can relieve some of the anxiety you may be feeling.
“Are there residency requirements in my state?”
If you have recently moved to a new state, you may have to wait before you can legally get a divorce. Some states have a law that requires couples to reside there for so many months before filing for divorce. Ask your divorce attorney what the residency requirements are where you live.
“How long will my divorce take?”
While your lawyer will not be able to tell you exactly how long your divorce proceedings will be, he should be able to give you a general idea of how long it may take based on divorce cases similar to yours. The more issues there are to dispute, the longer a divorce takes to finalize.
“Can I file for divorce if I don’t know where my spouse is?”
If your spouse has left or you have been separated for some time, you may not know where your spouse is living or how to contact him or her. In Utah, the courts may allow you to serve your absent spouse by means of public notice. Your divorce attorney can advise you on how to proceed if you are having difficulty locating your spouse.
“Can I change my name if I get divorced?”
If you changed your name when you got married, you might want to go back to your maiden name after a divorce. Accomplishing this will involve filing a name change petition with your divorce and other steps that your lawyer can smooth out for you.
What to Ask About Different Types of Divorce and Legal Terms
When going through a divorce, you may hear unfamiliar words and legal terminology. Do not be afraid to speak up and ask your divorce attorney what these mean and how they apply to your situation.
“What is the difference between a legal separation and a divorce?”
Spouses considering separating may choose to first file for a legal separation and later decide whether they want to divorce. Your divorce lawyer can explain how legal separation differs from divorce and how child support, division of assets, and other matters may be handled during the separation. You can also ask family law attorneys about trial separation, which may be another option.
“Can I get an annulment?”
You may be wondering whether you can get an annulment instead of a divorce. Your divorce attorney can explain the grounds for an annulment and determine whether you and your spouse legally qualify. Keep in mind, though, that an annulment can be just as expensive, and the proceedings just about as complex, as the divorce process.
“What is a collaborative divorce?”
A collaborative divorce allows both sides to reach a settlement agreement without going to court. To set the process in motion, both parties will work with their own divorce lawyers to work out what they want in the terms of the divorce.
“What is the difference between a contested and an uncontested divorce?”
It is important to understand whether your divorce is classified as an uncontested or contested divorce. An uncontested divorce will typically take less time to finalize and will end up costing you much less than a contested divorce.
“What is a divorce mediator?”
Your lawyer may suggest bringing in a trained divorce mediator if you and your spouse are having difficulty reaching a settlement agreement. The mediator should be a neutral third party whose goal is to help you and your spouse work through any issues of your divorce.
What to Ask About Housing, Insurance, and Assets
Obtaining answers to questions about the division of property and assets is essential to protect your best interests.
“Should I move out of our family home?”
While moving out of your family home or staying is a personal decision, you may want to ask a divorce lawyer whether living together or separately will affect your case. There are certain situations, such as those involving domestic violence or the abuse of children, when it is recommended to live separately from your spouse.
“Can I kick my spouse out of our family residence?”
You may have grounds to ask the court to force your spouse to move from your family home. Your divorce lawyer can tell you whether you have the legal basis to do so. The court may grant this request on an emergency or non-emergency basis.
“What if my spouse cuts me off financially before we go to court?”
In some marriages, one spouse is the primary income earner while the other is dependent on the earner for financial needs. The dependent party will understandably be concerned about being cut off financially. Your divorce lawyer can tell you how such a situation may be handled when it arises.
“Can I keep my insurance during the pending divorce?”
You may be dependent on your spouse for car insurance, health insurance, and other types of coverage. If so, you are likely concerned about these being canceled while you are in the middle of divorce proceedings. Ask your lawyer whether it’s possible to retain your coverage during your pending divorce and beyond.
“How can I keep my spouse from taking my assets?”
Your assets may include land, buildings, vehicles, furniture, appliances, jewelry, and other personal property. The division of assets will depend on many different factors. Find out from your divorce lawyer how to keep assets from being awarded to your spouse.
“How is debt divided in a divorce?”
When couples apply for divorce, any debts acquired during the marriage are referred to as marital debts, which may include mortgages, loans, lines of credit, and credit card balances. Your divorce attorney can explain how any debt you and your spouse have can be divided during the divorce proceedings.
“How is property divided in a divorce?”
Another common concern divorcing couples have is regarding the distribution of property. Before ruling on what property goes to which spouse, the court determines whether the property is community property (property acquired before marriage) or separate property (property acquired after marriage or as a gift or inheritance).
“Will my spouse get my inheritance after we divorce?”
You may have intended to leave your assets to your spouse before divorce came up but now wish to change the terms of your will. In some states, the spouse is the beneficiary of a person who dies without a will. Your lawyer can help ensure that your inheritance is left to the party you wish in the event of your death.
What to Ask About Divorce Attorney’s Fees
One of the many unpleasant parts of going through a divorce is paying lawyer’s fees. The following are some questions about the costs which you may want to ask a divorce lawyer before retaining his or her legal services.
“How much will my divorce cost?”
While your divorce attorney may not be able to tell you exactly how much your divorce will cost in advance, he may be able to give you an estimated fee range. However, the final total will depend on various factors, many of which are outside of your lawyer’s control.
“How are your fees structured?”
Most divorce attorneys require a retainer fee to be paid upfront to secure their legal services. Some lawyers will charge an hourly rate that is taken from the retainer fee, while other law firms will simply charge a flat fee to handle your divorce case. Before you sign any paperwork, be sure to ask about how the attorney’s fees, filing fees, and other costs will be structured.
“Can I get my ex to pay my divorce attorney’s fees?”
A court may order a spouse to pay or contribute towards the divorce attorney’s fees of the other spouse. After reviewing your income and assets, your divorce lawyer should be able to give you a reasonable idea of your odds of obtaining a fee award against your mate.
“Is there anything I can do to reduce the cost of a divorce?”
Most people assume that filing for a divorce is going to be expensive. However, your divorce lawyer could give you some tips on how to keep costs down. Typically, an uncontested and amicable divorce is less costly than a contested divorce.
“What is your law firm’s billing process?”
Most people want to know what a lawyer’s fees will be and how often they will receive a bill. This should all be explained in a fee contract before you secure the services of the lawyer. However, if you do not understand something in the contract, or the agreement contrasts with what the lawyer told you, be sure to ask follow-up questions before signing anything.
What to Ask About Child Custody, Child Support, and Alimony
If you are dissolving your marriage, you should ask a divorce lawyer about spousal support alimony. Those with children are going to wonder about custody proceedings, the payment of child support, and how to keep their kids safe.
“Can I receive spousal support if I am at fault for the divorce?”
If you are at fault for the divorce, you may be wondering if you can still receive alimony from your spouse. Whether you are eligible to receive spousal support will be based on factors laid out in state law. An experienced divorce attorney will know the divorce laws in your state and how they apply to your situation.
“How much spousal support can I expect to receive?”
Your family law lawyer may not be able to tell you exactly how much spousal support you are eligible to receive, but he may be able to give you a general idea of the amount. A family law judge takes several factors into consideration when determining how much alimony to award a spouse, such as the length of the marriage and the spouse’s income.
“Will I get more money if I allege adultery?”
If you are getting a divorce after learning your spouse had an affair, you might wonder how this may affect your alimony payments. While adultery does not always change how money and assets are awarded, it can make a difference in some situations.
“What if my spouse refuses to pay spousal support?”
Being awarded spousal support is one thing, but receiving the payments from your ex-spouse can be another. While alimony payments are not as strictly enforced as child support, your family law attorney can tell you what the procedure is if your ex refuses to pay spousal support.
“How do family law courts determine child custody?”
As a parent going through a divorce, one of your biggest concerns is going to be regarding the legal custody of your child. Each state has guidelines a family law judge must consider when deciding on child custody arrangements. Family law courts try to determine child custody based on what is in the best interests of the child.
“Can my spouse prevent me from seeing my children?”
Some child custody cases may turn into battles where one parent tries to keep the other from seeing the children and having visitation rights. Your family law lawyer should be able to tell you if your spouse has a case to prevent you from seeing your children.
Typically, unless the other parent poses a threat to the child’s safety, the court will not grant sole custody to one parent. Whether this is the case or not, a custody battle may ensue, but an experienced family law attorney can work to remedy the situation.
“How do I prepare for a child custody hearing?”
It is important to know what to expect and also to be prepared before going to court for a child custody hearing. Family law attorneys can help their clients prepare and devise a child custody plan before appearing before the judge assigned to the case.
“How do allegations of domestic violence affect family law cases?”
For good reason, family law courts are reluctant to award child custody to any parent who has been accused of domestic violence. Whether you are the victim of physical abuse or a parent who has been falsely accused of domestic violence, your divorce lawyer can tell you how such allegations may affect your case.
“How does a family law court calculate child support?”
The exact amount of child support that your spouse will be ordered to pay will be determined by a judge. However, your family law lawyer can explain to you how child support is typically calculated using each parent’s net income.
Our Divorce Attorneys Are Here to Answer Your Questions
These are just examples of some of what you may want to ask your divorce attorney. Getting a divorce is a major step in your life, and it is understandable that you will have many questions throughout the duration of the legal process. Put yourself at ease by seeking legal representation and advice that just may change your life.
When you retain our legal services, Brown Family Law’s divorce attorneys will advocate for your best interests, answer your questions, and support you throughout your divorce proceedings. The compassionate legal team at our family law firm understands how stressful it can be to go through a divorce. We care about your family, your emotional well-being, and your financial outcome.
At our law firm, our goal is to do everything we can to make the divorce process as easy as possible for you. Even if you worry you may be facing a high-conflict divorce, speaking to our family law attorneys will be worth your time. We’re dedicated to helping remove the fear of divorce so you can move forward with peace of mind.
To discuss the details of your family law case with a divorce attorney, contact Brown Family Law’s local law office. Schedule your initial consultation with us at your convenience.
Call 24/7 at 801-685-9999 to seek legal representation and advice.