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.

Family Law Firm: Do You Need One?

Family law firms handle legal matters between people with a close familial bond, including parents, grandparents and spouses. They also deal with matters that concern or involve children, including custody, adoption, and juvenile delinquency. While no one ever hopes to need the services of one of these attorneys, there are several occasions where this type of law firm may be beneficial for you and your family.

If you and your spouse have attempted everything possible to make your situation work, and have discovered that divorce is the best option, you will benefit from hiring an attorney who works for a family law firm. He would be able to assist in the division of property accumulated during the relationship, work out who should be awarded custody of any minor children, as well as settle questions regarding visitation and help with setting up alimony or child support payment arrangements. Keep in mind, however, that the opposing party may also have sought the assistance of such an attorney, and choose to contest the divorce. If matters cannot be resolved, a judge may become the final arbiter.

In divorce or separation cases, along with filing paperwork and preparing for court appearances, much of the work done by family law attorneys involves working with their clients, and trying to keep the emotional situations under control, something that often is an issue in matters regarding spouses or children. In these situations, they can serve as legal counsel to one party, or they may choose to provide counseling services to the couple, or simply act as impartial, third-party mediators.

A representative from a family law firm can also help to try resolve situations before they occur. For instance, prior to a couple taking their wedding vows, a family law lawyer could help them draft a prenuptial agreement that spells out how money and property would be shared in the event of a divorce, or he might help create the agreement once the marriage has taken place. These postnuptial agreements often include issue regarding child custody, visitation rights and child support, as well as the division of property and other assets.

On occasion, a family may need to consult with a lawyer who specializes in family law because of a criminal issue that involves a minor family member, or in situations that involve domestic violence or abuse. Often, these attorneys will have made matters such as juvenile law, or possibly criminal law, their specific area of expertise.

Not many work deals with emotional pain and discord, however. Lawyers that work through family law firms also have the opportunity to deal with a family’s happier occasions, such as adoptions. They are often called on for advice and assistance in making sure that all the necessary steps and procedures are followed so that everything goes smoothly, and the process can be finalized quickly and easily. In situations where one or both parents have passed away, the attorney would also be responsible for working with the child’s grandparents or other relatives to establish visits and possible living arrangements.

What Does a Family Law Solicitor Do?

If you’re having problems with your relationship, or want to know the legal implications of cohabiting, or whether you’d be better off legally if you were to get married, then you’ll need the advice of a family law solicitor.

Here’s what a family law solicitor could do for you.

1. If you want legal advice about getting divorced, then you’ll need to speak to a family law solicitor. You’ll have plenty of questions to ask, and will want to know what the next step is, and how to go about it properly.

2. If your relationship ends then you might want to know where you stand if you’re both paying the mortgage or rent, or have other joint payments or interests. You’ll want to know what your rights are even though you’re not married.

3. You might want to know more about the financial implications of getting married or divorced. Perhaps you’ll want to know whether you’ll need to give halve your earnings to your ex spouse, or how long you’ll need to pay maintenance for.

4. You might be anxious about having to sell your home or other valuable possessions after a divorce or at the end of a relationship. Your family law solicitor will be able to give you the information you need so that you can act accordingly.

5. There might be children involved, and so as a parent you’ll want to know whether your children will live with you, or your ex. You might have to ensure that your children have a suitable home to live in, and want to see them on a regular basis.

6. Depending on your circumstances, you might be considering a pre nup agreement. You’ll want to know whether it’s legally binding in the UK, or if there are other ways of ensuring that you don’t lose out in the event that your marriage doesn’t work out.

7. As a grandparent you also have rights, and so you’ll want to make sure that you’re not stopped from seeing your grandchildren in the event that their parents split up.

8. If you don’t want to get married, then you might want to know the legal implications and responsibilities of cohabiting.

9. if you’re considering a civil partnership, then you’ll want to make sure that you understand what’s involved, and what your rights are.

10. If you’re experiencing domestic violence, then you’ll want to get help as soon as you can. A family law solicitor can usually help you to arrange safe accommodation, and provide all the information and advice you need to leave a violent partner.

Now you know what sort of services are offered, do you need to speak to a family law solicitor?

Tips for Hiring a Family Law Attorney

A family law attorney is helpful resource when it comes to legal matters concerning familial events. These lawyers handle a variety of legal cases involving marriage, minor children, and elderly parents. Some law firms specialize in one specific field of law while others represent all types of cases.

Selecting a family law attorney should be given careful consideration. This is of particular importance when retaining lawyers to represent minor children or establish guardianship for parents suffering from conditions that limit mental capacities, such as Alzheimer’s or dementia.

It can be beneficial to consult with three or more law firms to meet lawyers and staff members face-to-face. Clients often spend considerable time with legal counsel, so it can be helpful to work with an attorney whose persona puts them at ease.

Taking time to interview candidates can help clients select the most appropriate lawyer for the task at hand. It can also minimize the potential to change lawyers in the midst of the case.

There are many options available for finding a good attorney. Many people obtain referrals from family and friends. Others use lawyer referral networks or conduct online research. Some utilize telephone directories.

One common mistake people make is selecting lawyers based on the size of their phone book advertisement. It’s important to realize that large ads do not necessarily equate to being the best attorney.

One option for reducing time spent searching for an appropriate law firm is the American Bar Association. Although the ABA does not provide direct referrals, they do publish a list of nationwide lawyers in good standing with the organization at AmericanBar.org.

Lawyer referral networks are another option for locating family law attorneys. Some referral networks assess a fee while others offer complimentary services. It is rarely a necessity to pay anyone to assist in locating lawyers so proceed with caution when fees are assessed.

Once 3 or 4 law firms have been located it is time to setup an initial consultation. Law firms often provide complimentary meet-and-greet sessions, but some assess a nominal fee. Be certain to determine fees before making the appointment.

Ask to meet with all staff members who will work on the case. It is common practice for attorneys to enlist help from paralegals and administrative assistants to reduce legal fees. Clients should feel at ease with all staff members, but especially those whom they will work closely with.

It is important to establish legal fees before hiring law firms. Legal fees are usually based on the type of case involved. One-time events, such as drafting prenuptial agreements or filing legal name changes, are usually billed at a flat fee. Ongoing cases that require court appearances or extensive research are typically billed at an hourly rate.

Most lawyers require an upfront retainer fee for representing ongoing cases. This fee is usually around 25-percent of anticipated fees. Attorneys oftentimes require payment in full when services are rendered, while others send monthly invoices.

Clients that require payment plans must discuss terms ahead of time to ensure timely access to legal counsel. It is crucial to stay current with payments; otherwise, lawyers can refuse to provide legal counsel.

One way to reduce legal expenses is to always be organized and prepared for meetings. It is helpful to keep case documents organized in a dedicated file folder. Always keep record of phone conversations, face-to-face meetings, and email correspondence that take place with the family law lawyer and staff and retain copies of all documents related to the case.