297 E. Main Street (Rt. 20), Marlborough, MA 01752297 E. Main Street (Rt. 20)
Marlborough, MA 01752
Call Us:508-460-1237Office: (508) 460-1237
Fax: (508) 460-0433


What to Expect  |  Documents to Provide

What to Expect
One of the most frequently asked questions from a person about to embark upon hiring a divorce attorney is: "How do I find a GOOD divorce lawyer?" A potential client should understand that finding a lawyer who will provide him or her with good legal representation requires a certain amount of homework and research on his/her part.

The following is a list of possible resources available to anyone looking for an attorney:
  • referrals from friends and/or other professionals who are familiar with a particular attorney's work and reputation,
  • Bar Association referrals: state or local associations can provide names of attorneys who are experienced in divorce/family law,
  • newspaper or telephone or internet advertisements (gives information but difficult to glean substantive information about the listed professional).
Once the client has received a name (or names) of an attorney(s), the next step is to make a telephone call to that attorney's office to ascertain:
  • whether an initial fee for consultation is charged,
  • what the attorney's hourly fee is,
  • whether the attorney has a schedule that enables him/her to be available to handle the case.
An appointment is made for an hour consultation with the attorney.
During the initial meeting, the client should ask the attorney:
  • if he/she concentrates in family law,
  • what experience he/she has had in similar cases,
  • what, if any, retainer is charged and how charges are billed against it,
  • if another member of the law firm will be handling the case; and, if so, who that attorney is.
During the initial meeting, the client should expect the attorney to do a thorough intake in order to provide the client with a proper assessment of legal charges, time, and possible issues and their likely resolution. The attorney should be prepared to ask the client:
  • preliminary questions to ascertain general information and data, and
  • specific questions to ascertain the factors necessary to determine issues and likely resolutions.
The attorney should spend from an hour to two hours in this initial consultation to make a thorough preliminary assessment of the client's issues.

The client must not expect to get "guarantees" from an attorney. In fact, since it is virtually impossible for an attorney to predict with absolute certainty the outcome of a case, a client should be wary of an attorney who offers such a guarantee.

The client should expect that any fee agreement between him/herself and the attorney be in writing. The client should read and fully understand all terms of his/her agreement for payment of legal fees. Nobody wants to invite surprises in this area.

The fee charges for legal services are governed by the profession's ethical code that requires fees be reasonable. The fees are normally charged on an hourly basis. If a retainer is required, the client should find out whether or not the retainer is refundable. Retainers are a certain sum of money that is set aside by the attorney in his/her escrow account against which an hourly fee is charged. Contingency fees (percentage fees) are not allowed in Massachusetts for domestic relations actions.

In certain cases, the legal fees may be assessed against the other party. The client should ask about this possibility. There is, however, no guarantee that these fees will be paid by the other party.

Documents to Provide
The proper preparation of your case, whether a settlement is reached or a full trial is necessary, is ESSENTIAL in order to obtain a favorable result. That preparation is possible only if your attorney has knowledge of all relevant facts. Providing the following documents when available and as soon as possible will help to eliminate unnecessary and costly delays.
  • certified copy of your marriage certificate
  • copy of any Ante-Nuptial Agreement or contract concerning the marriage
  • copy of your most recent payroll statement with year-to-date totals included from all employments
  • copy of your spouse's most recent payroll statement with year-to-date totals included from all employments
  • copies of federal and state income tax returns, including all schedules, filed by you and/or your spouse for the last three years
  • copies of any tax returns, profit and loss statements, and any other records concerning any business interests during the last three years
  • copies of documents describing you and your spouse's employment benefits, including pension rights, annuities, stock options, profit-sharing plans, and insurance
  • copies of any trust instruments in which you, your spouse, or the minor children have any interest whatsoever
  • copies of all insurance policies and/or statements
  • copies of all documents concerning all real estate in which you, your spouse, and/or the children have any interest whatsoever
  • copies of statements concerning any depository accounts in which you, your spouse, and/or the children have any interest whatsoever during the last twelve months
  • copies of any and all personal net worth or financial statements furnished to any organizations for any purpose during the last three years
The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.
Any unauthorized use of material herein is at the user’s own risk. Transmission of the information and material herein is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, an agreement to create an attorney-client relationship with the Law Office of Richard J. Butts or any member thereof. Contacting the Law Office of Richard J. Butts does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.
go to top