Separation and divorce
Finding the right lawyer to represent you
If you wish to be represented by a lawyer, it is important to choose the one who best fits your needs. Here are some things to keep in mind in choosing a lawyer to represent you in divorce or separation proceedings.
Contact several lawyers
Even if an acquaintance has recommended a certain lawyer, it is a good idea to contact several lawyers before making your decision. This allows you to compare them before making your choice.
The best way to contact a lawyer is usually by phone or email. The person who answers may be an assistant, rather than the lawyer. Feel free to ask questions. However, you may not receive all your answers at this stage. It may be necessary to have an appointment in person.
Ask the right questions
Asking the right questions to several lawyers will help you to compare their answers and choose the one who best meets your needs. Here are some examples:
Expertise and language
- Is the lawyer experienced in separation and divorce cases?
- What language(s) do they speak?
Fees and payment
- On what basis do they calculate their fees (hourly rate or lump sum)?
- How much is their hourly rate or the lump sum they charge (whichever is the case)?
- What means of payment do they accept (cash, check or credit card)?
- Do they require a retainer (partial payment in advance) before starting to work on the file?
- Do they accept legal aid mandates?
Availability, appointments, means of communication
- What is the best way to communicate with the lawyer: phone or email?
- At what time of day are they available to meet with you?
- Is it possible to have an appointment soon?
The lawyer may also ask you some questions, such as the name of your ex-spouse. A lawyer must refuse to represent you if they are representing your ex-spouse or have done so in the past.
Provide relevant information
You should also think about the most relevant information to provide the lawyers you will be contacting, especially about any complicating circumstances. A lawyer may refuse to take your case if they don’t have the time, resources or experience to meet your needs.
Here are some examples of information to provide:
- You or your children live in a different city than the lawyer
- You have been served with court documents issued by a courthouse in another region
- You and your ex-spouse operate a business together
- You have obtained a judgment in another province or country
- You or your ex-spouse have property or bank accounts outside of Canada
- You were married outside of Canada
- The Director of Youth Protection has intervened regarding your children
- Police have intervened for a situation of conjugal violence
- You or your spouse have undeclared income
Check that the lawyer is licensed to practice law
Choose someone who inspires your confidence
The lawyer-client relationship is a very personal one: you must have confidence in your lawyer. You must also feel you are being listened to and understood.
It is important to choose a lawyer who is well attuned to your situation and the approach you wish to take. They should be able to offer a plan of action that meets your needs. For example, the lawyer should propose mediation if your aim is to reach an agreement with your ex-spouse.
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The information presented on this page is not a legal opinion or legal advice. This page explains in a general way the law that applies in Quebec. To obtain a legal opinion or legal advice on your personal situation, consult a legal professional.