What Questions Should You Ask a Divorce Attorney on the First Visit?

Here are the most important questions you should ask a divorce attorney before you hire one

What questions should you ask a divorce attorney when you meet for the first time?

The answer is in this guide as we give you over 50 questions to ask and the answers you should expect. We divided this guide into categories. This will help you navigate this guide and, if you wish, go to specific categories rather than read the entire guide from start to finish.

This guide on questions to ask a divorce attorney is comprehensive

We focused the guide on questions to ask about your case. We did not get into the attorney's background. We assumed you conducted enough due diligence to ensure you are meeting with an experienced divorce attorney.

In some respects, how the attorney answers the questions we list below will tell you how experienced and knowledgeable the divorce attorney really is and whether the divorce attorney is a good fit for your case.

If you wish to have that first visit with us, contact us for an affordable strategy session. Our family law firm has offices in Orange County and Los Angeles. We represent clients in divorce and family law cases in each of the seven Southern California counties.

What questions should you ask a divorce attorney at the initial meeting? We list the most important.
What questions should you ask a divorce attorney at the initial meeting? We list the most important.

List of topics in this guide

Here are a list of topics we cover in this question and answer guide. If you want to skip ahead, click on any of the links below.

  1. Communication
  2. File security and access
  3. References and reviews
  4. Delegation of responsibility
  5. Cost of divorce
  6. Reasonable expectations
  7. Your living arrangements
  8. Temporary orders
  9. Child custody and parenting time
  10. Spousal support
  11. Child support
  12. Attorney fee requests
  13. Divorce process
  14. Community and separate property
  15. Contested versus uncontested issues
  16. Settlement
  17. Billing
  18. Time management

Questions to ask a divorce attorney on the first visit about communication

1. How often will we communicate about my case?

If an attorney struggles with answering this question, he or she may be a poor communicator. Organized and disciplined attorneys have a proactive communication style that fits the particular client.

The complexity of the case does make a difference. The more complex the case, the more the communication will likely take place. A typical case has communication between one to four times per month. A complex case that is in active, contested litigation on a regular basis may have significantly more.

2. How will we communicate with each other?

Communication may be by telephone call, email, videoconferencing, and/or in-person meetings. All of these are common in today's world.

The better family law attorneys communicate in various ways, as the client's needs change. Sometimes, a short email is efficient and sufficient. Sometimes, the situation may call for an extensive in-person meeting. You also have everything in between those extremes.

The better family law attorneys will customize the communication at that moment based on its nature and extent. We believe dialogue requires verbal communication and an exchange of perspectives and ideas. However, if the communication is as simple as passing on information, asking simple and straightforward questions or answering them, email communication works well.

3. What communication should I have with my spouse about the issues you and I discuss?

The attorney should explain to you the importance of the attorney - client relationship and the privilege in communications. The attorney should explain to you how and why you should not disclose attorney - client communications to any third parties or your spouse. This is a complex topic.

You will speak with your spouse about the divorce. However, speaking with your spouse about the divorce does not mean you speak with your spouse about what your attorney told you and/or what you told your attorney.

4. How can I keep communication between my spouse and me amicable?

You should strive for amicable communication. You should ask this question so the attorney can draw on his or her experience. An experienced and knowledgeable divorce attorney will provide you with the tools to communicate better with your spouse.

These tools include how to communicate with your spouse, when to communicate with your spouse and how to diffuse conflict. If the divorce attorney struggles to provide you with this information, you should question his or her experience.

Our divorce attorneys pay significant attention to communication. That includes not just the words used but also the tone in the timing. We provide our clients with essential tools so their communications with their spouse are efficient and productive.

It is true certain spouses do not listen. It is also true certain spouses take even the simplest communications and create conflict. The divorce attorney with whom you have the first visit should help you communicate with such difficult or even toxic personalities. The divorce attorney with whom you meet should also tell you when communication with such personalities should stop.

5. How will I receive copies of paperwork related to my case?

If the attorney is still sending all of your paperwork by regular mail, you should be concerned. Electronic communication does have its drawbacks and if a person is not careful, the person may compromise sensitive and private information.

However, in today's world there are secure ways to communicate and send paperwork. Secure emails are one example. Applications such as DropBox are terrific tools to communicate.

The attorney should explain at the first visit how he or she would send you paperwork on your case. If that transmittal is outdated or not secure, you should ask yourself about that attorney or law office's sophistication and technology and security.

Questions to ask a divorce attorney on the first visit about security of the file and access

1. How will you keep my file secure?

The family law firm you intend to hire should have a system in place to keep their clients' files secure. Most family law cases, especially divorce cases that involve financial issues, will include documents with the client's Social Security number, bank account numbers and other private information.

If the attorney or law firm you intend to hire does not have a specific and secure method of storing and transmitting that information, you should ask yourself what else are they not diligent about.

2. How will I have access to my file?

Your attorney should explain how you have access to your file upon any reasonable request by you. For example, if you want to see your physical file, you should make an appointment and come into the office to view it.

If you want physical copies of documents, the attorney should provide it.

If you want electronic copies of documents, the attorney should securely transmit those electronic copies.

The file does not belong to the attorney. The file belongs to you. The attorney needs the file to represent you. However, that does not prevent the attorney from providing you whatever information you need from that file.

3. Are there portions of my file I cannot view?

The short answer is no. You should be able to view any portion of your file. If the attorney tells you anything different, you should be concerned why he or she does not believe you can view any portion of your file.

4. Are there portions of my file of which I cannot have a copy?

Family law is unique because it is possible to have a portion of the file that is confidential as a matter of law or court order. The most common example is a private child custody evaluation report. Although you may view that report, California law does not permit you to have a copy while represented by an attorney. You may have a copy of the report if you represent yourself. These rules are modifiable by court order.

Questions to ask a divorce attorney on the first visit about references and reviews

1. Will you offer references from previous clients?

The answer to this question had better be a resounding, "yes." If an attorney cannot provide you with multiple references to former clients, that attorney may not have much success representing clients. The former clients should also be types of cases similar to yours.

I am not referring to you going through a divorce and getting a referral to a prior divorce client. I am referring to a factual situation and issues similar to the ones you face. Do expect the attorney will need to obtain one or more former client's consent before the attorney can provide you with their contact information.

2. Are all of the reviews and testimonials on your website from former clients?

If the attorney has testimonials on his or her website, you should ask the attorney whether each of those reviews and testimonials is from a former client.

If the answer is no, then ask yourself this question - what is it doing on the website and why was it expressed or implied as a client review and testimonial?

You can ask the same question regarding reviews and testimonials outside of the website and on other websites you read such as reviews on Google, Yelp, etc.

We believe it is dishonest and potentially unethical for an attorney to have a review and testimonial on a website that is not from an actual client, former client or someone who genuinely consulted with the attorney about his or her family law matter, unless the attorney actually discloses that fact. How many do you think actually make that disclosure? We have not yet seen it.

If the reviews and testimonials are from family, friends or other non-clients, ask yourself why the attorney did not explicitly state that on his or her website. You should also ask yourself about what else is the attorney being dishonest?

Check out the reviews and testimonials by our family law clients.

Questions to ask a divorce attorney on the first visit about delegation of responsibility

1. What people at the law office will work on my case?

You should know before you hire an attorney whether the attorney or attorneys will be working on your case or if non-attorneys will be doing the substantive work.

Do not underestimate the importance of this question.

If the attorney with whom you meet states non-attorneys will be doing a significant amount of the work, then that should in most situations concern you. While I am sure there are skilled paralegals out there, we do not believe a reputable family law firm will delegate significant, substantive work to paralegals, secretaries or other non-attorneys.

What is or is not significant and substantive may vary depending on the case. On that issue, it is more a question of your comfort level.

2. Who makes court appearances on my case?

This is a very important question. If the law office you hire only has one attorney, that attorney will likely be the one who makes the court appearances. However, you should specifically make sure that is true. You should also question how the attorney, as a one-person office or even a two-person office, has the time to handle the paperwork and make court appearances.

Remember these small offices are also a business so there are administrative responsibilities separate from handling a case. Ask yourself whether the very small office you are hiring really have time for your case or whether that one or two attorney office will be juggling a lot of different responsibilities in addition to your case.

In a law firm setting, the attorney with whom you meet may not be the attorney who makes the court appearances. Sometimes there are specific attorneys designated and law firms who handle court appearances. These attorneys may not be the same attorneys who handle the various day-to-day paperwork on your case. This is normal.

Questions to ask a divorce attorney on the first visit about cost of divorce

1. How much will my divorce cost?

Are you surprised this question is on the list? Most attorneys say there is no way to get an estimate of cost. However, we believe most attorneys are wrong.

It is possible to give an estimate of cost so long does the attorney also explains the unpredictable variance that significantly decrease or increase the cost of the divorce. No attorney can honestly state how much a divorce will exactly cost. However, experienced and knowledgeable family law attorneys can estimate how much a divorce should cost under different scenarios.

For example, if both spouses are amicable with each other, exchanged their disclosures, have no disagreements regarding custody, support, division of assets and debts, that divorce will cost significantly less than a high conflict divorce.

An attorney should be able to break down each component and provide an estimate of the costs associated with each component. The one thing you must keep in mind and which the attorney should explain to you is cost estimates are not needlepoint estimates. They are a ballpark estimates.

Check out our guide titled, How Much Does a Divorce Cost? The Answer is Less Scary Than You Think.

2. What can I do to control the cost of the divorce?

This is an important question for two reasons.

First, it will test the divorce attorney's knowledge and experience of the divorce process and divorce law.

Second, it will educate you on what specifically the attorney can and will do with you to help mitigate the costs.

Do not settle for a generic answer. If the only thing the attorney tells you is for you to be cooperative and reasonable, that should concern you. Instead, the attorney at the first visit should be able to explain to you what you can do in your specific case to keep the costs down.

Otherwise, either the attorney does not know or the attorney is not paying attention to the facts you provided him or her at the first visit.

You should save this question for the end of the first visit because the attorney does need to be familiar with the facts of your case.

3. What are the steps my spouse may take to increase the cost of the divorce?

This question is the reverse of the previous question but asked for the exact same reason.

There is certain stereotypical behavior we see from certain stereotypical personalities. For example, if you are divorcing a narcissist, you can probably expect certain levels of misconduct from him or her during the divorce. If you are divorcing an alcoholic or divorcing an abusive spouse, expect certain behavior.

These patterns of behavior are not a mystery. While nobody can predict what your spouse will do in every circumstance that does not mean you should not know what spouses similar to your spouse usually do in these circumstances.

Questions to ask a divorce attorney on the first visit about reasonable expectations of results

1. How does the court typically rule on issues such as those in my divorce?

No attorney can guarantee to you a particular result. However, experienced and knowledgeable divorce attorneys should be able to tell you what the typical and results are in cases similar to yours. The more factual disagreement there is between you and your spouse, the harder it is to estimate the potential outcome. The clearer the facts are, the easier it is to apply the law and estimate potential outcomes.

Do not confuse estimating potential outcomes with estimating the ultimate outcome. The California Family Code gives the family law judge significant discretion in many different areas of family law.

Check out our guide titled, What To Expect in a Divorce

2. After stating the issue about which you have a question, ask the attorney what the law specifically states about that issue.

If you have a question about alimony, ask the attorney what California law states about alimony. If you have a question about a specific aspect of child custody such as move away requests, ask the attorney what California law states about move away requests.

Whatever is on your mind should be in the form of a question to your attorney regarding California family law.

Experienced divorce attorneys will not struggle to answer your questions. Experienced divorce attorneys should rarely not know the law. The better divorce attorneys even show you the law in our codes.

We wrote a guide for husbands and wives on divorce in California.

Questions to ask a divorce attorney on the first visit about living arrangements

1. Should I move out of the family home or should my spouse do so?

Moving out or staying is a personal decision but there are certain situations where a good divorce lawyer will advise his or her client whether moving or staying affects the divorce case. Some examples include those situations where there is domestic violence, the potential for false allegations of domestic violence, physical or emotional abuse of the children, etc.

2. Can I kick my spouse out of the house?

You may have grounds to ask the court for an order to remove your spouse from the family residence. If this is something you want to do, you should ask the attorney whether you have the proper basis to make such a request of the court. The attorney should then ask questions to determine if you have the factual and legal basis to do so on an emergency basis or a nonemergency basis.

Read our guide titled, How Can I Kick My Wife or Husband out of the House?

Questions to ask a divorce attorney on the first visit about temporary orders

1. What temporary orders should I seek?

Alternative question: What temporary orders should I expect my spouse will seek?

The California divorce process usually involves temporary orders that then lead to final orders.

Temporary and final orders are not necessarily the same terms.

There may be subtle or significant differences between the time the court makes a temporary order and when the court makes a final order.

What your divorce lawyer should tell you is what temporary orders make sense in your case. For example, does it make sense to do the following?

  • Should you seek temporary child custody and parenting time orders?
  • Will there be benefit in seeking temporary child support and spousal support orders?
  • Is there a sufficient disparity between you and your spouse's income or access to money to seek an attorney fee contribution from your spouse as part of a temporary order?
  • Is certain property in danger of being destroyed or otherwise in some form of default status? If so, does it make sense to seek property control orders on a temporary basis?
  • Is there a family business that your spouse is endangering by his or her conduct? If so, does it make sense to seek temporary orders for exclusive management, control and use of the business while the divorce is pending?

There are many different types of temporary orders and which one makes sense for you is something the divorce attorney with whom you consult should be able to answer.

2. How does the process of getting a temporary order work?

The divorce attorney should explain to you the request for order process. This includes the following:

  • The documentation required to file a request for order,
  • How the attorney will file the request for order and serve it on your spouse or your spouse's attorney,
  • How the court assigns a hearing date for the request for order, and
  • Who is present and what happens at the hearing date

You will enjoy our page on the subject of request for order hearings

Questions to ask a divorce attorney on the first visit about child custody and parenting time

1. What is legal custody?

The attorney should be able to explain to you exactly what legal custody means including the difference between joint legal custody and sole legal custody.

Learn about joint legal custody and sole legal custody

2. What is physical custody?

Once again, the attorney should explain to you what physical custody means, the difference between a that label and the actual parenting time and what circumstances justify joint versus sole physical custody.

3. What child custody and parenting plan makes sense for my case based on everything I told you?

Listen carefully to the answer you receive. The attorney should provide you with specific information regarding the different custody and parenting plans available.

The attorney should also provide you with information on the local parenting guidelines in that county, if the county has parenting guidelines. Orange County, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Kern counties in Southern California have their own parenting guidelines. Some are much better than the others are.

Questions to ask a divorce attorney on the first visit about spousal support

1. How much can I expect to receive in spousal support?

Alternative question: how much can I expect to pay in spousal support?

Which question you ask obviously depends on whether you are the higher or lower income earner?

Spousal support, also called alimony, is either temporary or ordered at the final judgment. Most divorce cases include both temporary spousal support and spousal support at the judgment phase.

We are not going to go into a lengthy discussion about spousal support. We encourage you to check out our guide titled California Alimony Laws.

Instead, what you should ask and you should know is what your temporary spousal support payment expectation or obligation should be.

While the attorney may not be able to give you the exact, temporary amounts because he or she will not be able to double check the input factors against your and your spouse's actual income, the attorney should provide you with a reasonable range of spousal support.

It will be more difficult for a divorce attorney to answer your questions about the ultimate alimony amount at the judgment phase.

That is because the attorney would have to first conduct or have a proper expert conduct a marital standard of living analysis, which includes an analysis of Family Code 4320. If your income stream and that of your spouse is simple and predictable, the attorney may be able to provide you with a general standard of living analysis. However, any information during the first visit should be with a grain of salt until the full analysis is complete.

2. Is spousal support modifiable during the divorce?

You should ask regarding modifiability of spousal support, especially in those situations where your income or that of your spouse is unstable or unpredictable. Based on the facts you provide to the divorce attorney, he or she should be able to explain to you whether you will likely face modifiability request or whether you will need to file one.

3. Will we need to hire a forensic accountant to help with the alimony determination?

The divorce attorney should tell you whether you have the kind of case that may require a forensic accountant's help. For alimony purposes, forensic accountants help divorce attorneys determine controllable cash flow available for support. Controllable cash flow is different from income. It is possible to have income but not have that income be available for support. This sometimes occurs with self-employed spouses.

Questions to ask a divorce attorney on the first visit about child support

1. How much child support will I receive?

Alternative question: how much child support can I expect to pay?

Similar to spousal support, the child support question depends on whether you are the one receiving child support or the one who expects to pay it. Similar to spousal support, the attorney can run the computer program to determine what temporary child support should be.

2. Is child support modifiable during the divorce?

The question is very similar to the one you may have asked regarding spousal support. The answer may be similar or the same for child support.

3. Will we need to hire a forensic accountant to help with the child support determination?

Once again, the question is similar to the one you may have asked regarding spousal support. Income does not have the identical definition for child support versus spousal support. The divorce attorney should explain the difference to you, if he or she actually understands the law on this issue.

Questions to ask a divorce attorney on the first visit about attorney fee requests

1. Can I seek attorney's fees against my spouse?

Assume your first visit goes into the following:

  • A reasonable depth about gross and net value of assets,
  • The amount of liquid assets such as money in various accounts with financial institutions, and
  • Your income and that of your spouse.

In such a situation, your attorney should be able to provide you with your reasonable chances of obtaining a fee award against your spouse. Courts base "need based" fee awards on Family Code 2030 and 2032.

2. Will I have to pay my spouse's attorney fees?

This question is the opposite of the previous question. Assume you are the higher earning spouse and/or the one that has much more access to money to pay for fees. The attorney should be able to explain to you what exposure, if any, you have to an attorney fee order against you.

Since the results are not predictable, the attorney will not be able to predict whether you will definitely pay some contribution toward your spouse's fees. However, the attorney should explain to you the following:

  • What factors the court takes into consideration,
  • Which ones will be most important in your case, and
  • What actions you can take to mitigate your potential liability to contribute toward your spouse's fees.

That last part may be the most important part of the conversation and is a conversation we regularly have with prospective clients with whom we meet.

The knowledge we are able to provide to our prospective clients at the first visit on this issue empowers them. It helps them realize they have more control over the fees than they thought. This is especially true if they are willing to make smart choices and avoid unnecessary litigation.

We wrote about this topic on a page titled, Defending Against Attorney's Fees Requests

3. What can I do if my spouse unreasonably increases the attorney's fees I incur? Do I have any recourse?

The divorce attorney should explain to you what Family Code 271 states. He or she should also explain to you the different types of sanctions (not related to Family Code 271) available if your spouse does not cooperate during the discovery or disclosure process of a divorce. If the attorney does not have a solid command of the law on these issues, he or she may lack the experience you need. This is especially true if you expect your divorce to be contested and high conflict.

Questions to ask a divorce attorney on the first visit about the divorce process

1. How long will my divorce take?

If you want to plan your life after a divorce, you should at least have a general idea of how long divorces similar to yours take. This planning will also help you prepare a budget for the cost of divorce.

The attorney should truthfully tell you there is no way to predict exactly how long a divorce will take. He or she should also tell you the length of time a divorce takes depends mostly on whether the divorce is contested or uncontested.

The more issues in dispute, the longer the divorce likely will take.

The answer however should not stop there. We explain this more in the next question.

2. What is the typical divorce process from start to finish?

Smart divorce attorneys will also explain to you how your particular case should go, including contested issues and uncontested issues.

While the attorney cannot predict exactly the steps from start to finish, the divorce attorney should provide you with each step if your case follows a typical path from start to finish. Even contested divorces have a path or pattern they follow.

Once a divorce attorney has handled enough of them, he or she is familiar enough with that path and its nuances to give clients specific advice on the journey and the different factors that likely will cause a divergence.

We write a comprehensive FAQ guide on the California divorce process.

Questions to ask a divorce attorney on the first visit about community and separate property

1. What is community property in my case?

California Family Code 760 states, "Except as otherwise provided by statute, all property, real or personal, wherever situated, acquired by a married person during the marriage while domiciled in this state is community property."

That definition however is not very helpful to the average person. At the first visit, the divorce attorney should explain to you what is likely community property in your case. I use the word "likely" because there are facts you may not know and which may surprise you during the divorce. Some spouse's do not know the details of when and how you and your spouse (or just your spouse) acquired certain assets. Are you that spouse? If so, you may not realize certain assets are not 100 percent community property.

2. What is separate property in my case?

California Family Code defines separate property as the following:

"(a) Separate property of a married person includes all of the following:

(1) All property owned by the person before marriage.

(2) All property acquired by the person after marriage by gift, bequest, devise, or descent.

(3) The rents, issues, and profits of the property described in this section.

(b) A married person may, without the consent of the person's spouse, convey the person's separate property."

Exactly what we wrote regarding community property applies here. An attorney should tell you what is separate property based on what you told the attorney. However, there may be facts you do not know and that may change the analysis. You should keep an open mind regarding these types of issues.

Questions to ask a divorce attorney on the first visit about contested versus uncontested issues

1. What do you expect to be the contested issues in my case?

Toward the end of the first visit, the attorney should explain to you what issues he or she expects may not easily resolve. The attorney will base his or her answer on the information you provided.

You may not like reading this but it is important for you to know. Stepping into a divorce with your head in the sand will not help you. You will feel blindsided throughout the divorce, as issues do not resolve. Stepping into a divorce knowing the likely contested issues will help you plan and prepare with your divorce attorney. This will increase the chances of a reasonable result consistent with the facts and the law.

2. When do you think we will resolve the uncontested issues in my case?

You should ask this question toward the end of the first visit. By then, the attorney should explain to you the timing for the uncontested issues. For example, if you and your spouse agree on parenting time, there is no reason to wait months before the attorney drafts a stipulation and order that sets forth the parenting time.

Be careful however on financial issues. Until you and your spouse exchange preliminary declarations of disclosure, it is dangerous to agree on support and division of assets. These situations are organic.

Let us take spousal support and child support as one example. It may make sense in smaller cases where the income is predictable and both spouses or W-2. In such cases, we can look at pay stubs and those pay stubs may tell the whole story. The more complex the income structure becomes, the less likely quick agreements make sense.

Questions to ask a divorce attorney on the first visit about settlement

1. Will I have to review and approve settlement offers before you make them?

The answer to this question had better be, "yes." The attorney should also explain to you the process of preparing settlement offers and the collaboration that takes place between you and the law office.

2. How will the negotiation process proceed?

The divorce attorney should explain to you how the negotiation process works and whether he or she intends to use correspondence, mediation, voluntary settlement conferences or other methods to attempt resolution. Not every method is proper for every case.

The divorce attorney should also explain to you whether, from a first impression, you have the kind of case that will likely settle or proceed to court. This is not predicting the future. This is the attorney being candid with you about his or her first impressions.

An attorney should not hesitate to provide this to you and you should understand situations might change because you cannot predict your spouse's behavior any more than your spouse can predict your behavior.

Questions to ask a divorce attorney on the first visit about billing

1. What are the hourly rates for the people who will be working on my case?

You should not have to wait to review a retainer contract before you know what the attorney and non-attorney's hourly rates are for a case like yours. The attorney should explain to you exactly what the hourly rates are. If you decide to hire the divorce attorney, what the attorney told you should match exactly what is in the retainer contract.

2. How does the retainer deposit and any replenishment of that deposit work throughout the case?

Once again, do not wait until you review the retainer contract to ask questions about such issues. You should know the retainer deposit the attorney will need. You should know what the policies are regarding replenishment of that deposit throughout the divorce.

The attorney may not be able to answer this question for you until he or she knows enough about your case. Therefore, you can ask this question toward the end of the first visit.

3. How often will I receive a bill from you?

The attorney's retainer contract should explain this to you in detail. Separate from that, you should ask this question so the attorney verbally explains you how the billing process works. You should then cross-reference that with what you read in the retainer contract. If what the attorney told you and what you read are different, stop and ask follow-up questions.

Do not sign documents that contradict what the attorney tells you.

4. What happens if I have questions about the bill you send me?

We hope that the attorney explains to you how the collaboration process takes place if you have a question about your bill. The collaboration process should include an easy way for you to communicate with the attorney or the designated person at that law office regarding your bill. If you receive vague answers, this may be a red flag. The attorney should provide you with specific information in response to this question.

Questions to ask a divorce attorney on the first visit about time management

Why do you have time to handle my case?

The answer to this question is probably yes. That is exactly why you should ask follow-up questions. Follow-up questions include questions about the attorney's caseload and time management. Do not be shy about such issues.

If an attorney takes offense to you getting into the details of the time and attention he, she, or the law firm have for your case that is a huge red flag. The elite family law attorneys do not overburden themselves or the law firm with more cases than they can handle.

Questions to ask a divorce attorney at the first visit

Are you ready for a strategy session?

Now you know the questions to ask a divorce attorney on the first visit. The next step is meeting with experienced and knowledgable divorce attorneys.

If your divorce will be filed or is pending in Orange County, Los Angeles, or any of the other Southern California courts, please contact us for an affordable strategy session. Our family law firm represents clients in each of the seven Southern California counties. We have offices in Orange County and Los Angeles.

To learn more about our fees and services, visit our FAQ guide linked below.

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"I can not say enough about Robert and the culture he has created throughout his firm! Client and outcome driven through-and-through, while keeping integrity and “humanness” center stage. I hired Robert and his firm for my paternity case after 10 months with a top notch Los Angeles firm that fell victim to the same manipulations and game-playing my ex functions with. They weren’t able...

- A.C.

If you're looking for an excellent attorney for a family law case, Farzad Family Law is exactly what you need. From the very first call and strategy meeting, I felt instantly at ease and confident that my representation would be nothing short of amazing. I've had the pleasure of working with Matt, Peter, and Robert and they don't just claim to care about you and your personal situation; their...

- Julie

"Let me first say this…FINDING A GOOD FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY IS HARD,HARD AS HELL! I was lucky to run into this firm. My situation began a couple years ago when my bitter ex filed court documents against me for custody. I had no idea about court and even less regarding family law. I was in a panic. I interviewed the first attorney I saw on yelp with 5 stars and hired him. He was a horrible...

- D.J.

"Before I met Robert, I had never spent more than six hours per week with my eight month old son. I tried to fight for more time but was never able to succeed. I felt very lost and scared about what might happen because I had absolutely no understanding of the family court system. My first attorney would barely take my calls or inform me of what was going on. I contacted Robert through his...

- Nick

"Want to thank everyone at the Farzad Family Law offices for everything they did for me. They treated me like Family and provided the upmost sincere advise with a great outcome to my case. Thank you for having my best interest at hand and always keeping me updated. GREAT Job. Would recommend to anyone going through a divorce. They are sincere and trustworthy."

- M.W.

"Dear Robert and the team, I just wanted to say THANK YOU for helping me, supporting me and always giving me strength and courage not to give up no matter what. Thank you Robert!!!!!"

- P.N.

"After 5 years of trying to negotiate custody for my son through other law firms, and having to settle for minimal visitation rights, I now have 50/50 custody for my son, thanks to Mathew and Ashley who were able to help me!!! I am highly satisfied with their services, I would recommend Farzad Family Law to anyone in my former situation. Thank you!!!!"

- R.P.

"There are no words to express how thankful I was to have Matt by my side through my custody battle! The most scariest time of my life and to have the most trustworthy attorney makes it all that much easier…whenever I felt stressed out him and Ashley always made me feel confident again! He goes in there and handles his business! I can’t thank Matt (and Ashley) enough for getting me...

- L.T.

"Robert got the job done! Came to him with my divorce dilemma, wife wasn’t letting me see the kids. Within 2 months Robert changed everything! I am almost done with the divorce now and Robert is HIGHLY recommended, and I will recommend him to any of my family and friends in the same situation. Thank you Robert and Yvette for all your help!'

- R.R.

"I can honestly say that working with Farzad Family Law has been a wonderful experience through a very difficult time. I’ve been working with Robert and his team for 3 1/2 years now. Never one have I felt as though I was just another client. Even during the slow times of my case such as waiting on continuances, distant court dates, or when nothing was happening legally I could always quickly...

- N.D.

"Over the years, I sometimes found internet links to articles on Farzad Law’s website which I found extremely helpful – but I already had competent legal assistance in my corner. But nearly a decade post-divorce, I needed help for a very specific contempt action. Another one of those website articles lead me to place a call to Robert Farzad. Having left my name & number, Robert called back...

- Joy

"I came to Farzad Family Law not knowing anything about them. I had received a recommendation from a paralegal that these people were good people. You read Yelp pages and Google reviews and you as a consumer don’t really know how things will work out for you from reviews or word of mouth. I personally don’t write reviews, but for these people you need to know. Robert and Matt and their...

- E.C.

"When I contacted Farzad Family Law to handle my divorce there was one thing that was important to me. I did not want to fight with my ex-wife verbally on the way out. A couple are married for many years and the last thing they do is say a lot of vile things that they later regret and have to live with. FFL handled this for us very well and I highly recommend them."

- HR

"If you’re looking for an attorney, scratch that, a firm that looks out for you, that works as a team on your case, that treats you like family I have to say I don’t think any other team could make you feel the way they treated me. I have to be honest, they make you feel important, like your case is first priority. They’re always available and able to answer any questions, you’ll never...

- JU

"I had been married just under a year when it became very clear my husband and I were not meant to be together. A couple years before the marriage, I had purchased a house that had appreciated quite a bit in the year I was married. I was concerned I would have to sell my house to pay a large settlement as consequence of the appreciation…He negotiated a financial settlement that was...

- SJ

"My separation was amicable until it wasn’t. When it came time to hire an attorney, I called several. Most were practical and dispassionate. Robert, however, was not only passionate about my case, he was mad about what my ex was trying to pull. I think he might have even been angrier than I was. I hired him the next day. While handling my case, he maintained that fervor while deflecting...

- KW

"Words cannot express the gratitude I have for Robert and his staff. I contacted Robert via email around 1:30am out of desperation and I received a phone call same day. I was immediately put at ease by speaking with Robert regarding my case. My ex-husband had filed for full custody of our daughter for the second time in five years. Needless to say, I was in a state of shock and disbelief and...

- Erica

"When the mother of my children filed false accusation in court to get custody of our daughter, I lost temporary custody but thanks to Farzad Family Law, seeing me on such short time notice from our court date they were able to take on my case and represent me in court doing an excellent job with clearing my name and getting me everything I ask for and more. I am very pleased and grateful...

- Luis

"When my ex-wife filed papers for more custody and child support, I chose the attorneys at Farzad Family Law. They were professional, honest and always had my best interest in mind. They were always quick to return my phone calls and emails, and never beat around the bush. They will be honest and straight forward with you about your case. Because of all these amazing qualities, I was able to...

- Collin

"Divorce is never easy and a divorce with children is even more difficult. After several calls and meetings with different attorneys in Orange County, I met with Robert and Yvette. Both were extremely assertive, informative, and composed. However, the main reason I chose them to represent me, was that they were patient and compassionate. I felt comfortable explaining my situation (even though...

- LU

"Life can be ever changing in a split second. I found myself in need of a divorce attorney quickly. Through a recommendation I found Robert and his team. Through their professionalism, compassion and just pure kindness, they made this journey for me and my son bearable. I will forever be grateful to them."

- LS

"Before I met Robert, I had never spent more than six hours per week with my eight month old son. I tried to fight for more time but was never able to succeed. I felt very lost and scared about what might happen because I had absolutely no understanding of the family court system. My first attorney would barely take my calls or inform me of what was going on. I contacted Robert through his...

- Nick

"I had a good reason to terminate the alimony that I was paying way over half of my marriage length. However my ex had a good reason to fight for it too. After a few minutes Google search, I found Farzad Family Law Firm as one of the highest positive ranking in the business. Honestly I didn’t look further searching and just called them and talk to Matt. He made a very well-thought plan for...

- Shahram

"Robert has been an incredible help during a very stressful, constant battle with Orange County DCSS. He and his team were always there to answer the phone, provide advice, and therefore, drastically lowering my stress level and anxiety. He was right, it takes a little bit of time and patience, but the outcome was finally both in the best interest of my kids and fair to me. I’m quite...

- KSM

"I searched for about 4 months and talked to a lot of attorneys for my case to get custody of my 14 year old daughter. Finally I talked to Robert 3 times before I said yes to taking my case. I have had a lot of bad experiences with attorneys going up against my ex-husbands attorney. I was very scared that it would turn out like it has in the past with my case getting dismissed. Robert and...

- Amanda

"Divorce is not an easy process. I was faced with so many different emotions I wasn’t prepared for. Luckily, Robert Farzad and team helped walk me through the process. The times I felt like I couldn’t fight anymore, the team really stepped up and made sure I didn’t give up. They are about a FAIR divorce, which I respect. I am very appreciative I had Robert Farzad and his team on my...

- Kelly

Mr Farzad is very accommodating and fair. He is very attentive . If you ever need to reach him for any matter, he will return your phone call or email very promptly. Although his clients are going through a very difficult time, he will act very firmly on his clients behalf and make sure that they are making the right decision under the circumstances. His staff is very pleasant and always there...

- SA

"When it came time to find an attorney for my divorce, Robert Farzad’s firm was one of the firms recommended to me. I had a long and detailed conversation with Robert Farzad after which I decided to meet with him and have him represent me. During the initial phone meeting as well as the person to person meeting, Robert made his recommendation on how to proceed with my divorce. He...

- SN

"When my ex girlfriend and I broke up for good, I knew that she would attempt to strip me away from my child’s life. She had decided to move across country without considering what would be the best environment to raise our child. At that moment I became desperate, I had gone to more than five different lawyers which gave me no absolute hope, they all said that since she was a single mother...

- MA

"Like most parents, I really only care about the safety and well -being of my children. My ex was an addict and was a direct threat to himself and my son, though no one seemed to listen to me! Once I retained Robert Farzad things changed. I had a lengthy custody battle that lasted for years, but Robert and his team were there with me every step of the way, always keeping the safety of my son...

- SM

"I came to Robert Farzad’s office after I met someone at the court house and referred me to him. I was in a nasty divorce and needed an attorney who would take my case seriously and personally. My ex is one of those wives who would say or do anything to win sole custody of the child to have more money from child support. Robert is NOT the type of attorney who likes to lose. How many...

- PN

"I have hired Robert Farzad as an out of town attorney. Although he never practiced in the town where I had my case filed, Robert soon became famous in the courtroom. Soon after other attorneys in that town spoke about him with respect and even judges respected his approach and honesty. I have never met an attorney who was so sharp and intelligent. He ALWAYS looked out for the best interest...

- DM

"Fantastic family law attorneys. They represented me in a difficult divorce case against my husband. They got great results and custody of my daughter. I wish I had hired them first."

- WM

"Amidst a major life crisis that turned my entire life upside down, when I was terrified, morose, and confused, I found Robert who helped me find clarity and calm throughout the legal process. He is always willing to go above and beyond when it comes to communication with clients – late night emails, weekend meetings if necessary, and quick response time for any and all questions. His team...

- AS

"Divorce is such a stressful area of law. I was already distressed and yet I had to think about legal implications. Robert Farzad was recommended to me by a good friend. From the first second that I talked to him, all my worries were put aside. He was so patient with me as he took me through the process while assuring me that he will take the pressure off my shoulders. He always returned my...

- SAK

"I was referred to the firm by a close friend of mine. From the first phone call to the final court appearance, the professionalism and attention to detail of the staff were nothing short of fantastic. They kept me informed and most importantly, they got me results. I have to thank Matt and Holly most of all, they really got me through a difficult situation. I’d recommend the firm to anyone...

- KK

"The firm helped us thought a rough time in our life when we were struggling with a very high child support payment that they reduced by more than half. They also got us more time with our son and helped us out with a divorce that was very complicated. I couldn’t have selected a better law firm to assist me with my problems. Their staff is always available to help in anyway…I would highly...

- JT

"After going through two attorneys that did nothing for me but run up my bill, I was blessed to find Robert Farzad and his law firm. I have never met an attorney who was so sharp and intelligent. He ALWAYS looked out for the best interest of me and my daughter. Once I retained him I was finally able to sleep through the night and my stress levels were low. I never had to worry about...

- MD

"I was very impressed with the level of service I received from the firm. I met and spoke with the actual attorneys who would be representing me. They explained everything they could, should, and would do in a way that made me feel they had my best interest in mind. I was not overloaded with paperwork or unnecessary phone calls in an attempt to jack up their billing hours. Communications were...

- Jeanne

"They talked me through everything. It was a very comfortable process thanks to them. It was a great feeling knowing they had mine and my children’s best interests at heart. They gave me their time wholeheartedly which mattered to me the most. This office proved to me that professionalism and a caring attitude can and do go hand in hand. My lawyer had a calming, yet powerful way about her...

- Elisa

"I am an attorney with 23 years of daily litigation experience. I first met Robert as my opposing counsel in a family law case and later handled a second matter through trial against Robert. I found Robert to be extremely knowledgeable and professional. Despite the unfortunate aspects of the litigation process, Robert always kept an eye on an effective balance between aggressive advocacy and...

- DC

"I highly recommend Robert Farzad. He is well versed on divorce, child custody and family law. He is accountable and expects the same from you. I met Robert Farzad through a friend’s attorney who Robert was up against him. My friend’s attorney, she said ‘Robert Farzad is cleaning my clock in my case against with him’. My friend’s attorney called Robert Farzad personally and explained...

- Suzanne

"Their knowledge and expertise in negotiating helped me to obtain the best Marital Settlement Agreement for my financial situation. I would recommend this law firm to any single father looking for solid representation and the best possible financial outcome. I was able to sleep at night knowing that all the details and available options were considered and put on the table. This ensured the...

- Damian

"I am a United States Marine. Robert and Matt represented me in my divorce and child custody Case. I cannot thank them enough on how they represented me in court, resulting in getting me the time I deserved with my daughter. They are true professionals and always showed true concern for me. There is not a doubt in my mind I would recommend them to family, friends or other service members....

- Nick

"Recently, I was encountered with two family law cases in superior court. The first time I decided to use a paralegal in order to save money. I quickly learned that this decision was the wrong decision. It only extended my court case, caused problems I was not familiar with and ended costing me more money. The second time Matt and Robert represented me. They are skilled, they know the law and...

- Joe

"I was represented by Robert Farzad and Matt Sundly in my Domestic Violence / Divorce case. It was a difficult time for me. They were professional and courteous, knowing how emotionally difficult this was for me. Their staff took time to inform me of details on the case, and in the end I was satisfied with the results all due to their efforts. I would say, if you must get a divorce, then...

- SB

"Attorney Matthew Sundly, has represented my interests in an ongoing and difficult custody situation for the last 4 years. There is no one else I would want to represent me. The professionalism, communication and interest in my case are second to none. Without Mr. Sundly’s commitment and personal attention to the details of my case, I fear what the outcome might have been. Knowing Mr. Sundly...

- BD

"I couldn’t be happier with their representation. I highly recommend them to anyone who is going through a divorce, or separation. They are professional, upfront about everything, kept me informed, and got me the results I was looking for."

- AG

"Matthew Sundly represented me in my child custody case. My son was living in a very dangerous and unhealthy environment with his mother. Because of Matthew’s skills in the courtroom and his wonderful rapport with judges and opposing counsel alike, I was able to gain full custody of my son and a very bad situation was completely turned around. Throughout my entire case, Matthew Sundly was...

- TK

"It was as bad as it could get: an angry, vindictive ex-spouse who was intent upon inflicting as much damage personally and financially as possible with lies and distortions. I faced the loss of my career, my reputation, and financial ruin. The first law firm I contracted suggested I just “give in to my ex’s outlandish demands and walk away.” This was not an option. Robert and Matt...

- Jeff

"I was once at a point in my life were I was scared and confused. I felt lost and alone. No one ever enters into marriage with the anticipation of pending divorce. My family is a precious part of my life that I never wanted to lose. The odds were not looking good for me even when I hadn’t done anything wrong. I was introduce to this firm. They explained to me that I had rights! They...

- CC

"They are a competent and objective professional family law firm who provides sound and consistent counsel. They are supported by a strong legal team who were impressively responsive to me. Matt and Robert always ensured I was aware of the potential downside of each issue we reviewed. They strike the right balance between taking assertive positions and the legal cost of those decisions so that...

- RC

"When it came time to file my divorce, I knew things would get very messy. My ex-wife was hostile, financially aggressive and determined to fight me at every turn. From the beginning, they alleviated my concerns and significantly lowered my stress level. They immediately analyzed my situation and put together a sound strategy to achieve the best outcome for my divorce. Throughout the process...

- Steven

"The firm represented me in my divorce case. Their professionalism set me at ease by carefully explaining all my options and courses of actions I could realistically take. Their prompt service in quickly answering my questions and taking action gave me a confident feeling that my case was important to them and their staff. In the end, I was very pleased with the fair, balanced and thorough...

- Greg

"In 2006, I was hit with the biggest change in my life, a bitter divorce. I had been married for over 18 years, had two beautiful girls and everything one could ask. Needless to say, this was the most difficult time of my life, a 2 ½ year divorce that ended in 2008. So I thought…In 2011, I was hit by the surprise of an Order to Show Cause from the Ex wanting long term support. I had no...

- Dan

"I am so grateful to have found them and could not have asked for a more attentive or compassionate law firm during this trying time. I always knew what to expect: honesty, integrity, professionalism and they always had my best interest at the forefront. I have and will continue to highly recommend them to anyone seeking legal representation for a divorce proceeding."

- Kelly

"I want to off by saying after being divorced in 1994 and paying 18 years of child support you would think your legal obligations would be done. That was not the case for me. I received papers from my ex wife looking for some outrageous amount of back child support. I was not sure what do at that point so I went hunting attorneys over the internet. I was very nervous to call an attorney but...

- TW

"Matt Sundly is currently representing me in my custody case of my 1 year old son. I have been a client for well over one year and everything I have seen thus far from this law firm has been great. My son’s father left the country for a year but is seeking 50% physical custody upon his return and we will be in court within a week or two of his return. Matt has always responded to my concerns...

- CL

"They represented me in a problematic child support case. This case had been going on for quite a few years and all advice I’d been given was negative and hopeless at best. My problems seemed to be insurmountable. I was literally at my wit’s end. Amazingly, with their representation, the results they were able to obtain for me were better than I could have ever imagined. I’m usually not...

- MW

"Matt represented me on my child custody case. He is very experienced person. Still to this day I call and he gives good advice over the phone and he is very fair on the fees. I would highly recommend them to anybody."

- MC

"Robert and Matt represented me in my Child Custody case. I am exceptionally pleased with how professional their work ethics are. Not only do they show hard work ethic and a genuine disposition, but they are the type of people that you can honestly feel that you can trust with your case. They make sure that you are comfortable and well taken care of when you come to the offices to discuss your...

- Cecelia

"I worked with Matthew Sundly whom I was very happy how he handled my case. This firm is also very fair in regards to the charges that were required. I have used them since my divorce for a custody situation and again I can’t say enough about there professionalism and concern for my case."

- Jim

"I really believe that you did an outstanding job with my situation. Yes, finances were touchy, but none of us anticipated the amount that we would spend. I was very pleased with how everything turned out. Thankfully, I got a fantastic teaching job and life has gone on!"

- Michelle

"I was represented by Matthew Sundly in my divorce case, though I was in a very precarious place due to previously represented by another attorney. Matthew Sundly was able to get me agreeable terms and will be representing me in the future to adjust custody. He was polite, professional and took a real personal interest in my case. If there is any regret it is I did not start with Matthew...

- Doug

"You are probably going through the same emotions as I was, confusion, anger, frustration but most of all sadness to have to go through this process. Rest assured, their professional staff made me feel completely at ease as I went through this tough time. Their legal team helped me understand the volumes of California divorce law and protected my best interest in my case. At the end, my legal...

- Carlos

Matt represented me in a “move away” custody situation with a very contentious ex-spouse. Matt was a strong representative who clearly cared about the outcome of my case. He fought for me, was strategic and tactful in dealing with the other attorney and clearly knows the court system well. I was impressed with his knowledge of my case because I had experienced previous attorneys reading...

- JH

"I had the pleasure of being represented by Mathew and supported by Ashley out the Mission Viejo office. Don’t kid yourself, this is a full service firm with multiple locations and I had regular interactions with Robert, Yvette, etc. They bring all their resources, knowledge and relationships to represent their clients and choosing a firm to fight for your family is one of the most important...

- J.F.

"I had case with my ex wife who I divorced 15 years ago. She wanted a low six figure reimbursement from me, though she is insanely rich and I am not, for what she claimed were medical bills for my daughter but were really almost all educational expenses. In the past, I have had multiple bad experiences with divorce attorneys, whom I spent fortunes on. The past attorneys in my divorce case were...

- William

"Remember, during the process of your divorce Mr. Farzad will become your most trusted ally. However, it may at times seem not so. Do not lose your cool. Do not focus on the cost. Do not focus on the present but look toward the future His strategy, persistence, and attention he offers to his clients will be seen only when it's all over. No one wins in divorce but he and his staff will see that...

- Joseph

"It was the toughest time of my life and Robert and his team are compassionate, understanding, and will focus you on what you can control and impact to get a better result. You will get through this process but having Farzad Family Law on your side will make it easier and lead to a better result. Can't say enough about the firm, their staff and the work they do. Don't tell Robert but I would...

- James

"Robert and his staff are very forthcoming with information. They are very straight forward and always kept me up to date on new developments. I felt completely safe and knew that every person working on my case had my best interest at heart; as well as my daughter. I wouldn't have had the outcome I did without the care and representation of Robert Farzad. I highly recommend Farzad Family...

- Erica

"There was not a moment that I felt that they didn’t care about my case, knowing they were working on others cases as well. The actually hearing was nerve wracking however, Robert assured me that everything turns out exactly how it should for the best interest of the children. Robert is not malicious like most lawyers, he is realistic and his advice is positive. I could not thank Robert and...

- anonymous

"I was referred to Robert by someone I met at the court house. I'm glad I called him and handed my case to him. Robert takes your case very personal. He doesn't treat you like his client. He treats you like a family member. I loved the work he did for me. Hopefully I don't have to hire him again. But I will definitely hire him when I need an attorney."

- Phi

"Robert gets every detail, he prepares like nothing I have ever seen, and he is an encyclopedia of legal knowledge. If you have serious money at stake, he is the attorney that I would recommend in a moment. He is not cheap but you get your money’s worth, as I did. Also his staff are great, all of whom respond quickly and are very kind professional people. He is exactly the type of lawyer you...

- WIliam

"I was blessed to find Robert Farzad and his law firm. I have never met an attorney who was so sharp and intelligent. He ALWAYS looked out for the best interest of me and my daughter. Once I retained him I was finally able to sleep through the night and my stress levels were low. I never had to worry about anything. Robert is a guinius when it comes to the law. His staff is super friendly and...

- MD

"Mr. Sundly did an excellent job handling my divorce. He was very thorough and was always there to help me and answer any questions during this very hard time!"

- Steve

"Matthew Sundly provided me with the results that I was looking for. He was attentive, professional and his team did an excellent job at handling my case."

- anonymous

"Matt is a trust worthy and knowledgeable lawyer who I can depend on guiding me in the right direction with my custody case. My case is still currently going on but so far he's gotten me full custody If,u 4 year old son which I can't ask for anything more!"

- Cullen

"Matt, Is a honest fair attorney. I've have always had full confidence in his work. He takes the time to explain things, he is fair, he does look out for the best interest for your child and you a child. I have and will continue to recommend Matt to anyone going through a delicate time in their life. Yes you can surely count on feeling safe and taken care of by Mr. Sundly. He is a honest man!!"

- Cynthia

"I initially hired an attorney who was not as focused on difficult custody situations so I found myself in a position to find a new attorney and the firm where Matthew Sundly works came highly recommended. He immediately jumped in and brought a level of confidence and genuine care to my family situation. Divorce is hard. I am glad to have had Matt and his team supporting me through the process."

- Delton

"Mr. Sundley and his team were quick to take action and to resolved my case. I am very happy with his work and I highly recommend him and his office."

- Christine

"I wish I had found Matt at the beginning of my case, but I'm glad to have had him to finish it up. Matt understands family law and the court system. He presents well in court and was well respected by all. I would not hesitate, if needed, to retain Matt for any family law matter. He's my go-to-guy."

- Earl

"It was because of Mr. Sundly's calm and pleasant demeanor and Farzad Family Law's incredible staff that something that could have easily been as stressful (if not more) as my previous "battles" with my ex-wife. I was always kept "In the loop" as to what was going on, what the next steps were and what, if anything, was needed from me. Mr. Sundly took the bull by the horns and did everything...

- Scott

"I came to him after my original attorney did nothing more than sit and take my money, Mr. Sundly was responsive and made me feel like he cared what the outcome would be. He took what was nothing 19% custody of my son to 48% and I am sure that if I would have gone with him initially I would have had at least 50%. My only regret is that I did not go to him first."

- anonymous