Free DuPage County Divorce Consultation? Beware!

Want a free Illinois divorce consultation? Watch out. A so-called free consultation can cost you more than you expect, and could even leave you in a worse position that you’d be in otherwise. If you want a fast and affordable uncontested divorce in DuPage County, then you might want to get up to speed on free divorce consultations.

I handle many uncontested divorces in DuPage County. And I’ve noticed many requests for free  divorce consultations. I don’t blame people for wanting something for free. But frankly, free divorce consultations can be a bad idea.

If you think you need a free divorce consultation, then please read this article! I go into the good – the bad – the ugly.

Free consultations don’t make sense

Most people think lawyers make too much money, and are greedy. I don’t think I fit that description – but I can tell you this: I’m not doing divorce law for fun. And law school isn’t free (just check my student loan balance to verify that).

So let me ask you this: why would a lawyer offer free consultations? The answer is simple – to get something out of it. Lawyers aren’t offering free consultations because they have fun sitting around and hearing peoples problems for free. If I want to do that, I can hang with the inlaws.

So what is a lawyer getting out of offering free divorce consultations?

Free consultations = marketing gimmick

Okay, so maybe gimmick is too strong a word. Or maybe it’s not.

Marketing isn’t a bad word. It’s how every business gets business. But the problem with many free divorce consultations in DuPage County is that potential clients expect consultations to be opportunities to gain valuable insight about their cases.

But here’s a little secret: Lawyers try to give out as little usable information as possible during a so-called free consultation.

Maybe free divorce consultations should just be called lawyer sales pitches.

Why are free consultations often worthless?

There are several reasons that free consultations often worthless.

  1. Free consultations are “limited”: I think it’s obvious that a free consultation will be limited. But what you should understand is that attorneys are not going to try to fully answer questions for free. Thoughtful answers sometimes require background information and research. I frequently answer a few questions for people for free, but I’m not going to sit down and have an hour-long free consultation with someone as if they’ve already hired me.
  2. People ask the wrong questions: Everyone knows someone whose been divorced, and they’v probably also used Google to look up a few things about their situation. So people seeking a free divorce consultation often ask me basic questions about the law. But I know that’s not really useful. Why? Because all DuPage divorce lawyers know basic information about the law – so asking those type of questions won’t help choose between one lawyer and another. And the answers won’t enable a person to handle the case alone. Therefore, it seems to me that going over a list of basic questions is largely a waste of time.
  3. Poor or incomplete information is given: Keep in mind that a free consultation is not going to be anything more than a cursory review of the basic facts. Comments and thoughts based upon very incomplete information are not very useful. So even if you did get a free consultation from a lawyer, the facts of your case are going to emerge and evolve so that the initial consultation becomes irrelevant.

Free consultations – not really free

Below are some of the risks for a free consultation:

  1. Too many meetings: If you start with the belief that free consultations are actually valuable, then it would make sense that more consultations are better. In fact, I’ve run across people who have had four or five free divorce consultations in DuPage County, Illinois. But that can eat up a lot of time. And as I mentioned, free consultations are very valuable.
  2. False confidence: I get the impression that people who have had one or several free divorce consultations think they have learned something valuable about the law or how their cases will proceed. But I don’t think that’s the the case. For example, some of those people have hired me in the past. And often what  I find is that they have too much confidence about their case based on information they received during free consultations. I found that it’s better to approach a divorce with an accurate understanding.

Does any good come from a free consultation?

Given all the problems I’ve discussed, it might not surprise you that I think free divorce consultations doesn’t do much good.

Usually, a free consultation consists of people asking the wrong questions, getting information that doesn’t help move the case forward, and hearing stories from lawyer.

 

There are some cases where a lawyer might actually be motivated to conduct a valuable free consultations. For example, one law professor I had bill at more than $600 per hour and offers free consultations. He only caters to very high-net worth clients. It’s not uncommon for him to bill more than $100,000 on a case.

So long story short, if you are going to hire a very expensive lawyer to handle your multi-million dollar divorce, you may very well find a free consultation that’s useful.

I’m just trying to give it to you straight. Hiring a lawyer is a two-way street. You pay the lawyer, and you get representation. Most free consultations are completely the opposite. The lawyer gets nothing, and the prospective client gets nothing that will really help move the case forward.

Alternative to the free consultation

So what is a person to do that wants an uncontested divorce but isn’t quite ready to move forward? In such cases, you can still get a consultation – just not one for free. Each month there are doesn’t of people who call me, and often they get a bit of information and don’t hire me. That’s fine. But some do hire me.

Here are some specific alternatives to a free divorce consultation in DuPage County:

  1. Phone “chat”: I wouldn’t really call a 5 minute phone call a “consultation,” so I’m going with the term “chat.” The point is that after a very short phone call, people can often determine if they are ready to move forward with a DuPage County uncontested divorce, or not.
  2. 1-hr paid consultation: Sometimes – even though an uncontested divorce is in the future, a person might really need to get in-depth advice regarding some specific topics. that can help when one wants to be strategic in discussing divorce with a spouse. For example, this might be the case when there are complicated child-related issues, or when real estate or a business ins invovled. In these cases, a paid 1-hour consultation might be approrpriate. That way we can get into detail about the problems in a way that free consultations simply don’t allow.

 

Meet the Author

Divorce Attorney David Wolkowitz

David Wolkowitz is an uncontested divorce lawyer in DuPage County, Illinois. He makes uncontested divorce quick and affordable by using a streamlined process and offering flat-fee representation. DuPage County divorce court is located in Wheaton, Illinois.