If you are preparing to go through a divorce and have questions about hiring a divorce attorney, you are not alone. Many of our clients come to us with questions not only about what they can expect from their divorce but also about what they can expect from their legal representation.
As with all aspects of the divorce process, it is important to make an informed decision about your choice of divorce attorneys. Here are the answers to 10 frequently asked questions (FAQs) about hiring a divorce attorney in Illinois:
Question #1: Can I Hire a Divorce Attorney for Free?
No, you can’t hire a divorce attorney for free. Divorce attorneys either charge flat fees or hourly rates; and, generally speaking, a divorce isn’t the type of matter an attorney will handle pro bono.
But, that doesn’t mean that hiring a divorce attorney is expensive. In fact, hiring an experienced attorney to help you make informed decisions can actually save you substantial costs in the long run. So, while hiring a divorce attorney isn’t free, it is well worth the modest investment.
Question #2: How Much Does a Divorce Attorney Cost in Illinois?
There isn’t a single answer to the question, “How much does a divorce attorney cost in Illinois?” Generally, you will pay less to hire a divorce attorney in a small town like Gurnee as opposed to hiring an attorney with an expensive office in downtown Chicago. You will also typically pay less when choosing an attorney at a smaller law firm with fewer overhead expenses. If you choose carefully, you will be able to hire an experienced attorney who charges reasonable rates that most people can afford.
Question #3: When Should I Hire an Attorney if I Am Contemplating a Divorce?
If you are contemplating a divorce, we recommend that you hire an attorney as early in your preparations as possible. There are many ways a divorce attorney can help you before you file for divorce, and taking steps upfront to avoid issues down the line can reduce the overall costs of the divorce process.
Question #4: Do I Need to Hire an Attorney if My Spouse Filed for Divorce?
Yes, if your spouse has filed for divorce, you should consult with a divorce attorney promptly. At this stage, there are deadlines you need to meet in order to protect your legal rights. Your attorney will need some time to review your spouse’s divorce petition and get up to speed on your family and financial circumstances, so it is important that you not wait any longer than necessary.
Question #5: Can My Spouse and I Hire the Same Attorney if We Are on the Same Page?
Technically speaking, yes. You and your spouse can hire the same attorney if you choose to do so. However, we generally recommend against this for a variety of different reasons.
Most importantly, when you and your spouse hire the same attorney, your attorney is limited in the advice he or she can provide. Your attorney may also have an obligation to disclose information that you would rather keep confidential; and, if you and your spouse end up in a dispute, one of you may be forced to hire another attorney (who won’t be familiar with the facts of your case). While many spouses assume that it is more cost-effective to hire a single divorce attorney to provide joint representation, this isn’t necessarily the case, and the limitations of joint representation generally aren’t worth it.
Question #6: Do I Need a Divorce Attorney, or Can I Handle My Divorce on My Own?
Here too, technically, the answer is “Yes”. There is nothing in the Illinois Compiled Statutes that says you need to hire a divorce attorney, so you can choose to handle your divorce on your own.
But, should you handle your divorce on your own? This is a different question entirely. From avoiding costly mistakes to helping you carefully address all of the issues you need to address, there are several important reasons to have an experienced divorce attorney on your side.
Question #7: Does My Divorce Attorney Have to Act in My Best Interests?
Yes, absolutely. When you hire a divorce attorney to represent you, your attorney should only be providing advice and recommendations with your best interests in mind. Your attorney should clearly explain your options, consult with you regarding any potential legal or financial implications, and work with you to help you make informed decisions regarding all aspects of your divorce.
Question #8: Does My Attorney Have to Keep Everything I Say Confidential?
Confidentiality is a hallmark of the attorney-client relationship. While there are circumstances in which an attorney may be obligated to disclose confidential information (i.e., if a client is preparing to commit a crime), these circumstances generally aren’t relevant in the divorce context. As noted above, maintaining confidentiality can be a concern when spouses hire the same divorce attorney, and this is one of the many reasons why we recommend against this approach.
Question #9: How Do I Choose a Divorce Attorney?
The best way to choose a divorce attorney is to speak with an attorney in person. Once you find a local divorce attorney online, we recommend scheduling a free initial consultation so that you can meet with the attorney and decide if he or she seems like the right choice for you.
Question #10: What Information Should I Bring to My Initial Consultation with a Divorce Attorney?
The more information you can bring with you to your initial consultation, the better. Our Checklist: Preparing for Your Divorce in Illinois is a good place to start.
Schedule a Free Initial Consultation with Gurnee Divorce Attorney Deanna J. Bowen
Are you ready to speak with a divorce attorney? If so, we invite you to schedule a free initial consultation. Please call 847-623-4002 or tell us how we can contact you online to start the process today.