Choosing a Family Law Attorney is One of the Most Important Decisions You Will Make
One that Can Significantly Impact the Remainder of Your Case
You may feel overwhelmed after typing a few words into Google and clicking on the different attorney names or getting referrals from friends or co-workers. You may have no idea what to look for but because of your situation, you want to choose an attorney as soon as possible. Before choosing a family law attorney to represent you in your divorce, child support, child custody, or other family law matters, you should keep a few key things in mind.
Communication is a Two Way Street - Keep Your Attorney Informed About Your Case
- An initial phone conference or consultation is very important for you, the client, and for the attorney. This is your opportunity to size up the person who may potentially be handling your family law issue and ask yourself whether you feel comfortable opening up to this attorney about the often difficult and emotional issues associated with a family law case.
- You should be prepared to share personal details about your marriage, finances, and private life with your attorney. Feeling comfortable with your attorney is a must.
Your Attorney Should Keep You Informed About Your Case
- Remember that YOU are the ultimate decision maker when it comes to your legal issues. Your attorney should speak to you in plain English, not "legalese" so that you can make informed decisions about your case and for your family.
- Your attorney should return your phone calls and/or reply to your emails in a timely manner.
- Your attorney should give you the information that you need to make decisions.
Choose an Attorney Experienced in Family Law
- The RIGHT KIND of experience matters. Your family attorney who drafted your will may not be the best person to represent you in your divorce. You should ask whether the attorney focuses his or her practice in family law matters and whether the attorney has the expertise required to handle the issues present in your case.
- If working through issues outside of the courtroom as much as possible is important to you, an attorney with mediation and collaborative divorce experience is ideal.
Be Honest With Yourself About the Kind of Divorce You Can Afford
- You may approach your divorce with the "don't get even, get everything" mindset, but it is important to remember that your attorney charges by the hour.
- You should be prepared to review a fee agreement for services with your attorney and to pay an initial retainer. You should be prepared to discuss your payments on your account once your retainer is exhausted.
- It is also important to realize that because an attorney does not know exactly how your case will play out, an estimate of time and labor required for your case is difficult to expect. There are many unknown variables that can change the course of a case and the overall cost. For instance, your spouse may choose an attorney that is difficult or is not mindful of the costs. Your spouse may be angry and want to "make you pay."
- The attorney who charges the most or works out of the nicest office may not be the best choice for you. Be honest about the kind of divorce and representation you can afford and choose an attorney who is sensitive to your financial situation and can negotiate the best result for you.
Choose an Attorney Who is Looking Out for YOU
- An attorney might take your case knowing your goals are unrealistic or that you don't have the strongest argument. Some attorneys will promise the moon but fail to deliver. Choose someone who is going to be honest with you about where you stand and what issues you should fight or what issues are not worth the overall emotional and financial cost.
- In a time of uncertainty and emotional turmoil, you need someone you can trust.