How To Choose A Family Law Attorney Properly

If you have come to a point in your life when you could use the services of a family law attorney you may be struggling with how to select the right divorce attorney. There are several differences in law firms that you can use to narrow your selections down.

Some of the factors that will affect your selection of a family law attorney are:

Confidence
A divorce attorney has to be aggressive enough to go after what you want from the dissolution of the marriage. When you go to the free consultation visit you need to ask the divorce attorney exactly what they will do to represent you. You want them to answer with confidence, to have knowledge, experience, and determination. When you hire a divorce attorney you need a “pit bull” that will grab hold of the problem and not let go until they get what they want.

Compassion
Even though a family law attorney works to help dissolve a marriage contract they must be compassionate to both parties. At one time the couple that is divorcing were in love, and there are other family members affected by the impending divorce, so the lawyer must be able to represent their client while maintaining a compassionate view of everyone else involved.

Availability
You need an attorney that will be available to handle the details of your case. When you call for a consultation at some firms you will have to wait several days, or even weeks. If the office manager has to call you and postpone your consultation visit you may be dealing with a law firm that does not have time to accept your case.

Experience
When you are comparing law firms that handle family matters like child custody, divorce, and trust funds, you want someone that has experience dealing with the issues you might be facing. You want a law firm that has dealt with many different types of family law matters so that they will be prepared to handle anything that might come up during your case.

Affordability
Unfortunately you will have to consider the amount of money that the law firm charges to handle cases like yours. Legal representation can be quite expensive unless you carefully select a law firm that has prices you can afford. Some law firms have payment plans that they offer their clients, and some of them postpone payment until the divorce is finalized because the other party may be responsible for some of your legal expenses. You must bring up the matter of fees at your first meeting and establish how much you can afford before you decide on the law firm.

Accessibility
You need a lawyer that has offices close to you. There will be times when you have to go by their offices to drop off documents, or to be briefed on the latest developments in the case. You want to be able to go to these meetings without having to miss work, or rearrange your life too drastically. Try and find an attorney that is in the same town that you are.

How to Find a Good Family Law Attorney

When you need a lawyer you need to take your time and find one that will be able to handle the type of case you have. Not all lawyers practice family law, and not all lawyers will represent all types of family law cases.

When you need a lawyer to help you with a matter of family law you are more than likely going to be emotionally stressed by the situation you are in. Do not allow your emotions to cloud your judgment. Research the law firms in your area and consider your options carefully.

1. Ask friends and family to make referrals
You more than likely have at least one family member, or one friend that has had a reason in the past to hire a family law attorney. You trust your family and friends, and they will be honest with you about the divorce attorney, their fees, their office practices, and the way they treat their clients. This may be the most important information that you gather during your attorney search.

2. Look in the local phone directories
The lawyers in your area will be listed in your local phone book. Many of them will have full page advertisements that explain the type of law they practice. The information in these advertisements will be generic, but you can find out the physical address of their offices, and the type of law they practice, and their web address may also be listed. You need to find an attorney that is within an easy travel distance from your home or office.

3. Go to their websites
A divorce attorney will more than likely have a website that their potential clients can visit. The website should have information concerning the credentials of the lawyer, their experience as a family law attorney, their office location, their office hours, and other critical information. They may even have some articles on their site that could give you helpful hints on what you are going through.

4. Read news stories and press releases
Look up the local newspapers from the county that you are going to go to court in and look for articles concerning the lawyer you are considering. You want a lawyer that has had more positive stories printed about them than negative stories. You may also be able to determine the success rate the attorney has had in the past by the news articles you find written about them.

5. Look at social media sites they are on
Check out sites like Twitter, and Facebook, and see if the attorney has an active account. You can often gain valuable insight about a person from what they are willing to post on social networking sites. You will also gain access to comments from former clients, and possibly get a better understanding of the lawyer, and how they treat their clients.

6. Look at online reviews
You can find reviews of a divorce attorney at sites like Avvo, Lawyers.com, and Findlaw that can help you to determine which family law attorney to choose.

Picking a Family Law Attorney

Family law is a branch of the law that is concerned with all of the legal issues that are connected to a family. For instance family law involves marriage, divorce, custody of children, child support, adoption and domestic violence. Dealing with problems within your family can cause a maelstrom of emotions and finding an attorney who can help you get through the rough patches can prove to be invaluable. This is a crucial time in your life where you require guidance and someone that you can effectively communicate your unique set of circumstances to.

An attorney of family law is someone you can turn to when circumstances in your family necessitate the hiring of a legal professional. You want to select a family lawyer who is skilled at the area of law he specializes in, as well as someone who is trustworthy and makes you feel at ease. You need to feel comfortable enough with the professional you hire to discuss matters of a personal nature. If you do not feel that you can talk about private issues regarding your family with the attorney you have chosen then you need to reconsider your choice and look for someone else.

A law firm that is worth your time and money needs to be experienced and have a proven track record of success. It is essential that the problems you are dealing with are resolved as quickly as possible and do not drag on for too long. The longer they continue for the more emotionally draining it can be for you as well as the rest of the family. The right legal practitioner can deal with sensitive marital and family cases in a timely fashion, and hopefully with as little expense to you as possible.

To ensure that you find the most appropriate attorney for the circumstances you find yourself in you need to select a specialist who possesses extensive experience as well as knowledge in family law matters.

Choose an attorney who knows his or her state laws well. You need to know before you start looking for a lawyer that all states have variations in the laws that govern family legal circumstances. To find a lawyer who would be well versed in what you need consult the county and state bar associations.

Once you find someone who you think would be suitable for your case you need to discuss the fee structure with him or her. Before you hire the family law attorney you need to finalize all fees. Certain legal proceedings can be more costly than others. If you are not informed about how much your legal fees will come to then this could end up getting you into trouble financially.

Narrow down your choice of attorneys to three and then book consultations with each one. While some lawyers do not charge for the initial meeting others do. Be prepared to pay for the first appointment just in case.

Family Law Attorney Q&A

When should I consult with a divorce attorney?

It is never too early in the process to consult with an attorney. Engaging with legal counsel early allows you to make informed decisions and avoid potential pitfalls – increasing your ability to achieve your goals. Remember, consulting with an Austin divorce attorney does not mean that you will be divorced; you may need information about the family law legal process. A common problem that I see is clients wait too long to contact an attorney to obtain legal advice and could have ended up with a better result if they had been informed about their options earlier.

What should I bring with me to the initial consultation?

Because family law matters can be very stressful, it is a good idea to write down any questions you have and bring them with you to the first meeting so nothing important is forgotten. You may also want to bring any documents relevant to your case if available – such as federal income tax returns, or documents concerning your assets and debts. If you signed a pre-marital agreement or any other kind of property agreement prior to or during your marriage, bring a copy to the consultation.

I was just served with divorce papers. What should I do?

You should retain a divorce attorney as soon as possible so they may provide legal advice regarding what has been requested and any hearings that have been scheduled. Once retained, your divorce attorney will file an answer on your behalf.

My spouse and I would like to only hire one attorney for our divorce. Is that possible?

In Texas, one attorney may not represent both spouses. Nor may a divorce attorney retained by one spouse give legal advice to the opposing party. Do some research to find out if your state allows representation by one attorney.

I understand that I have to go through mediation for my divorce. Is that true?

In Travis, Williamson and Hays Counties, mediation is required before a final hearing will be held in a family law case. In mediation, a trained, neutral third-party acts a facilitator for the settlement discussions between the parties and their respective attorneys. If an agreement cannot be reached during the mediation process, the parties may decide to resolve their issues via litigation.

How long will it take to get a divorce?

The time required to develop the final terms of your divorce is highly dependent on the number of issues to be resolved and the willingness of both parties to reach an agreement. In Texas, there is a statutory waiting period of 60 days after the Petition is filed before the divorce may be finalized.

Do both spouses have to consent to the divorce? What if one of us does not want the divorce?

Texas has a “no-fault” divorce statue. This means that a divorce can be obtained, even if only one spouse desires it. You do not need the agreement of your spouse to file the Original Petition for Divorce or to pursue a divorce.

What does it mean when an attorney is Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization?

A family law attorney who wants to be Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization applies to the Texas Board of Legal Specialization to take a day long written exam to become Board Certified in Family Law. Of the 78,032 attorneys licensed to practice law in Texas, only 691 are Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, or less than one percent of the lawyers in the state of Texas.

* In addition to taking a written certification exam, family law attorneys applying for board certification in family law must have demonstrated extensive expertise in matters such as divorce, property division, child custody, child support, paternity and other matrimonial matters. Specific requirements include:

  • Must have been licensed to practice law for at least five years
  • Have devoted at least 35% of his/her practice to family law for the last three years
  • Have experience handling a wide variety of family law matters
  • Have received recommendations by fellow attorneys and judiciary members
  • Must pass a day-long written exam on family law issues such as divore and child custody
  • Demonstrate regular participation in family law continuing education seminars

Family Law

Attorneys and lawyers practicing family law take up cases relating to all kinds of family related issues. These can be adoption, prenuptial agreements, marriage, divorce, separation, legal separation, annulment, alimony, division of the property accumulated during the marriage, domestic violence, negotiation, adjudication, child custody and support, child abduction, kidnapping or child seizure, emancipation, abuse in the marriage, parental rights, paternity, juvenile, felonies etc., and many such cases related to family. Other than this they also deal with regular cases relating to criminal laws, property related laws, probation law, trusts etc. However, the majority of the cases that come to family lawyers are the divorce, separation, abuse or child custody cases. A number of details need to be considered when it comes to these cases and family lawyers are specialized in all the legalities involved in such cases.

A number of questions tend to arise when a couple is getting separated legally or getting divorced. One is the process of getting divorced with a minimum fuss, as getting separated or divorced can in itself be a traumatic experience on both the parties. Add to this a contesting from either party and the whole thing becomes quite messy to handle without a lawyer to offer sufficient moral and professional support.

One other important issue that must not be neglected is the child custody and child support if any children exist as a result of the marriage. Even though the court finally approves all the aspects regarding the custody and support for the children, both the parties must be able to reach to a decision even before filing the papers. Attorneys and lawyers practicing family law will be able to provide immense assistance in such cases.

Family lawyers will be able to assist with all the usual questions that might arise in such cases. Child support laws vary in each state as the law is governed by each state individually without any input from the federal level. However, certain issues such as deciding the parent who is liable to receive the custody and the parent who is supposed to pay for the support, calculation of the amount of child support to be borne, etc., are the questions a lawyer from a particular state would be familiar with.

Family lawyers can also be of a big help if the supporting parent is missing or if the payment is not on time, or even in some cases when the individual does not care enough for the court orders to cough up sufficient amount for the child support. Deciding on other criteria such as visitation rights, receipt of money if both the parents are in different states, or when the child supporter is unable to make payments duly on time due to pecuniary problems.

Family problems can be very upsetting and distressing and the best way to handle them is with the help of a lawyer practicing family law. An exhaustive list of lawyers that are qualified, experienced can be found either from the yellow pages or on the Internet with some effort. A word of advice, it is the best option to always go for a new lawyer chosen on basis of qualifications and experience instead of the ones recommended by friends or acquaintances or relatives to avoid any problems or explanations later on.