Hiring someone to represent you in any legal matter is an important choice. But the stakes are even higher in a family law matter. Whether it is a divorce, a child custody case or a paternity action, experience and integrity count. So what questions should you ask before hiring a family law attorney? Here are what we believe to be the top 5 questions.

1. How long have you been practicing in family law?

This question is important because the family law arena in any city is competitive and some attorneys believe they can take a case with little to no previous experience.

2. What is the billing structure for your case?

Whether it is hourly or a flat fee, attorneys practicing in family law need to be very clear about how they charge and how they provide an accounting for the time spent on your case. Make sure to get the details in writing. We provide clients with an employment contract for our services and also an engagement letter-which is a direct outline of how we see the issues in the case, how our office communicates, billing and other issues that we have spent 14 years honing and working out.

This provides a clear outline for our office and our clients know what to expect.

3. What Is the Expectation for Me As Your Client?

I love getting this question as a lawyer. Why? Because hardly anyone ever asks me. During my first meeting with clients, I detail out that I want them to be honest, diligent and work hard for their case-just like I expect out of myself.

Why? Because one of the biggest complaints that clients have in the family law process is lack of communication from their attorney. And often times, attorneys suffer from having a lack of communication from our clients.

When we ask for documents or information, it is important that these things are provided and in a timely manner. It helps reduce attorney costs and the more open and clear a client is about the issues in their case, the better a lawyer can provide assistance and advice.

4. Is There A Way To Reduce My Attorney Fees?

Yes! Making a list of questions before calling the office/sending an email is a great way to keep an attorney's time at a minimum. A lot of times clients will think of a question and fire off an email-only to have another question ten minutes later. If there are no pressing matters or impending court dates, keep a running list of questions in your phone or on a notepad and send a once a week email to your counsel.

5. What is the Average Response Time For Phone Calls & Emails?

I think everyone should ask their divorce lawyer this question because it keeps everyone accountable. I tell clients in our initial meeting that I answer all phone calls (unless there is an emergency situation) within 24 hours during a work week. I also reserve the right to take 48 hours to respond to an email, as I do not make it a practice of working on the weekends.

These are only a few questions to ask when deciding to hire a family law attorney. Ask as many questions as you want and make sure you feel comfortable with your choice.