How to Choose a Family Law Attorney

Speaking with a family law attorney is a tough decision to make. But even tougher is knowing whom to hire when legal advice is needed. Many people feel desperate and hire the first family law attorney they find in the Yellow Pages. While some people get lucky doing it like this, it is more likely that individuals become frustrated and extremely dissatisfied with the final outcome. This dissatisfaction and frustration can be completely avoided by knowing how to choose the right family law attorney to help.

The relationship between the attorney and the client is a personal one as most family law cases are very delicate and sensitive in nature. These cases deal with marriages and/or children, so it is extremely personal. If an individual is not comfortable speaking about these highly personal matters with an attorney, look for a new one. It is okay to be selective. The attorney needs to listen and provide a feeling of confidence that they are competent and able to properly represent.

When an individual needs to have a surgical procedure done, they go to a specialist, not a general practitioner. The same is true about attorneys. While any attorney may state that they are competent enough to handle a divorce or child custody case, it is essential to locate an attorney that does nothing but family law. This ensures they know the “ins and outs” of the law in this field and are up to date on all new laws and regulations. When selecting an attorney, individuals should ask the attorney how many cases they handled similar to their own, if they are a member of the family law section of the state bar association, and if they have practiced family law in a specific county.

The right family attorney will make the time for the client. If they seem too busy to provide 100 percent of their attention to the case, look for a new attorney. To find out about their commitment to the case, ask them questions such as how many cases they are actively involved with right now, their policy regarding returning emails and phone calls, and how often they communicate with clients.

Many people think they need a shark in the courtroom when it comes to family law cases, but often times the peacemaker is the best family law attorney. Individuals should want an attorney that will settle the conflict without it having to see a courtroom. People should think about it like this, the longer the fight goes on, the more money the attorney will make. A shark tends to create further conflict, making it longer to settle on an agreement. Do not underrate civility.

The last item to think about when choosing the right attorney is their fee. While this may seem like an uncomfortable topic, it is vital to discuss fees. The fee agreement needs to be in writing and provide details as to the representation the attorney will provide. Ask questions such as what is the hourly rate, how often are invoices received, what billable rates are for others that may work on the case, and how to keep fees to a minimum.

Things to Consider When Hiring a Family Law Lawyer

A family law lawyer specializes in matters relating to issues that surround the family. These can include marriage, divorce, child support, spousal alimony, guardianship, adoption, domestic violence and child abuse.

Choosing a family law lawyer is an important decision, especially when dealing with child abuse and domestic violence. These legal issues are highly-charged events that require attorneys who are well-versed in domestic relations law and child advocacy.

Divorce can also be an emotionally-volatile arena that requires lawyers who can help both parties work through their differences while obtaining a fair settlement. When children are involved it is important to work with attorneys who will fight for the rights of minor children to ensure adequate child support is provided.

Issues related to family law often require clients to work closely with their chosen lawyer. It is best to determine what qualities you prefer before interviewing attorneys. Do you prefer a male or female lawyer? Do you require an aggressive attorney or one who remains calm? Do you need a lawyer with years of experience of would a recent law school graduate suffice?

It can be helpful to create a list of questions, concerns, and the desired outcome. Organize all records pertaining to the legal issue. For example, divorce lawyers will require financial records, real estate deeds, automobile titles, current and previous years’ tax returns, and information surrounding minor children.

It can be beneficial to interview three or more attorneys to determine which is best suited for your needs. Most law firms offer gratis meet-and-greet consultations while others assess a minimal fee. When arranging appointments inquire about initial consultation fees and what documents should be brought to the meeting.

During the meeting it is important to determine cost estimates. Family law lawyers normally require clients to provide an upfront retainer. This typically ranges between 25- and 50-percent of expected costs.

Legal fees are usually assessed at an hourly rate, but some cases are charged as a flat fee. Cases requiring extensive research and court appearances are typically billed hourly. Cases involving minimal work, such as a legal name change, are billed at a flat rate.

Law firms also assess backend fees to cover the cost of phone consultations, court filing fees, copying and faxing documents, and postage fees. Some attorneys deduct these costs from the retainer, while others remit monthly invoices.

The majority of family law lawyers require payment at the time services are rendered. However, some will allow clients to develop a payment plan. It is important to determine payment schedules to ensure you can comply. When payment plans are allowed, it is smart to obtain the plan in writing so that all parties understand payment amounts and due dates.

Individuals who require services from a family law lawyer, but cannot afford legal fees may qualify for pro bono services. Much depends on earned income and circumstances surrounding the case.

If possible, obtain family law lawyer referrals from family or friends. This can minimize time spent searching for or consulting with attorneys. Those unable to obtain referrals can utilize the Internet or telephone directories to locate law firms.

Another source for locating reputable attorneys is the American Bar Association website at abanet.org. The ABA does not offer recommendations, but instead publish a list of nationwide family law lawyers who are in good standing with the organization.

What is Family Law?

The Wikipedia defines “family law as an area of the law that deals with family-related issues and domestic relations including, but not limited to: the nature of marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnerships; issues arising during marriage, including spousal abuse, legitimacy, adoption, surrogacy, child abuse, and child abduction; the termination of the relationship and ancillary matters including divorce, annulment, property settlements, alimony, and parental responsibility orders “.

While broadly family law encompasses every aspect of a family as seen as a ‘unit of people living together for many reasons’, there are many finer aspects relating to ‘family’ in many different contexts in different parts of the world.

Family denotes a group of people affiliated by a consanguinity, affinity or co-residence.

Consanguinity – ‘con’ means together and ‘sanguine’ means blood; so it simply refers to people descended from a common ancestor. It is an important legal aspect to determine if two people can marry or to determine who inherits property left by a person who has not made a Will.

Affinity in the family sense means attraction of feeling or kinship or relation by marriage.

Co-residence refers to individuals or a group of people living in the same residence and carrying out responsibilities of a family or a household. This may include a parent and child or children and other members sharing blood ties or living together for other reasons.

Family law therefore cannot be confined within social, economic or governmental regulations. There are simply far too many aspects and complexities involving human relations that laws in many countries have diverse legalities referring to each country’s intrinsic social and familial guidelines.

Stark and startling contrasts govern legislation in certain parts of the world. In some societies, patriarchal laws govern while in some others matriarchal. In many parts of Europe, before the advent of the legal system as we see it today, the Church was seen as the law enforcer.

Historically, family law has been based on European feudalism. In the 1970s, family law underwent rapid changes and became redefined, as it had become a part of the wider national debate regarding family values, gender bias, and morality. Particular areas of family law relating to divorce, child custody, family property etc. experienced many changes. Such rapid changes enabling quick fix solutions in marriage, divorce, alimony, child custody and child support drew widespread criticism from many quarters that viewed rising cases of marital discord and disharmony all over the world as a dangerous trend.

Family law is an increasingly important area of legal studies, with many law schools offering numerous elective courses on the subject and the bar exam testing knowledge of this area of law. Furthermore, family law is evolving as the national debate surrounding family continues. One notable change is how family law has been broadened to encompass couples who do not choose to marry.

Today’s family unit has evolved over the generations and may be a concise or shortened version of the co-resident families of the past. Relationships too have evolved and newer legal aspects to family law are being formulated to cope with the complexities of modern life and emerging trends.