Hiring a family law attorney can be a relief as someone going through a difficult legal process for the first time, such as a divorce or separation. The right lawyer can give you the peace of mind to focus on yourself, your family and your future rather than complicated laws and legal procedures. It is important to find the ideal family law attorney for you and your case. Take these five steps to make sure you choose the right fit.
Ensure the Attorney Specializes in Family Law
First, cover the basics. Verify that the law firm specializes in family law during the first meeting or conversation. Multiple types of civil lawyers exist, including professionals that specialize in personal injury and business law. Find a lawyer who specifically practices family law. During your initial consultation, ask the family attorney if he or she will be the person actually working on your case. Some law firms arrange consultations with one lawyer but then assign the case to another attorney or paralegal. Be sure you are getting information about the person who will be working on your case. If someone else will be representing you, ask to meet that person.
Does the Family Law Attorney Have Experience in This Field of Family Law?
Family law is a broad practice area that covers many different types of cases. During your search for the best family law attorneys for your needs, look for a lawyer with real on-the-job experience in your field of family law. Ask about the lawyer’s skill in your practice area. The attorney should have hands-on experience handling clients with cases similar to yours. While each client is unique, practice with cases that are in your field of family law can guarantee your lawyer has what it takes to achieve positive results. Ask about past case outcomes, law firm reviews and client testimonials as well.
How Much Does the Law Firm Charge?
It is important to be comfortable with how much a law firm charges for the services you are requesting. Ask a few questions to fully understand how the lawyer charges, when you will have to pay and how much the final amount will be.
- Do you charge a flat fee or an hourly rate?
- What is the hourly rate for your services and those of others working on my case?
- Do you require a retainer paid upfront before you start my case?
- Do you offer any payment plans or installments made over time?
- Will you ask the courts to make my spouse pay for my legal fees? (In a divorce case.)
- Assuming there are no problems, what will the total case cost me?
- Is there anything I can do to reduce the costs?
The family law attorney should be open, transparent and upfront about his or her fees. You should not have to worry about any unexpected costs or hidden fees after you already sign with the attorney. Shop around and request price quotes from other attorneys that specialize in family law matters in your area before choosing one.
Are You a Certified Family Law Specialist?
A certified family law specialist is an attorney who has taken additional steps in the family law field to earn the title of specialist. In California, the State Board of Legal Specialization will only grant certification to a lawyer who has successfully completed an accredited program with requirements that are equivalent to the State Bar’s program. Hiring a certified family law specialist can ensure your attorney has special knowledge in the field to handle the case like an expert.
Trust Your Gut and Instinct
While you ask questions and receive answers from a prospective family law attorney, pay attention to how he or she treats you and responds to your concerns. The right family lawyer should be friendly, communicative and give you enough information about the law firm’s practices to make you comfortable. Overall, trust your gut and go with your instincts when choosing the right attorney for you family legal matters.