We’d all love it if the happy endings that happen at the end of Hollywood films came true in real life.
Unfortunately, those scenarios don’t happen very often. In many cases, relationships and family life can be fraught with strife, dysfunction, and drama.
All of this can take an incredible toll on the integrity of the family unit. When that happens, the result can be a breakup of the family. If this happens to you – you need a family law attorney.
An attorney will help you take steps to protect your rights, as well as those of any children you may have.
But how do you know if the attorney you’re considering hiring is going to be right for you, someone who is going to protect your interests and those of your kids?
Why It’s So Important to Find the Right Family Law Attorney
When you find the right family law attorney, it can feel like they’re heaven-sent.
They’ll be there for you when you’re going through one of the most difficult periods in life that a person can ever go through.
Having that pillar of support as you traverse this part of your life journey can make it feel less intimidating. You’ll feel confident that your needs are being cared for, that someone has your best interests at heart.
But how do you know when it’s time to hire a family law attorney?
This type of attorney is almost invaluable when it comes to going through the divorce process, especially when children are involved.
You might need to hire a family lawyer at other times in your life, as well.
If you are planning on getting married and you want to protect yourself and your assets, you can have a family lawyer draw up a prenuptial agreement for you and your fiancé.
Family lawyers can also help you if you decide to adopt a child or if you need to establish guardianship.
A family attorney is also who you would turn to in cases of domestic abuse, juvenile delinquency issues, and child abuse or neglect cases.
These attorneys handle some of the most delicate issues a person can have. When you hire an attorney, you’re allowing them into your life, giving them access to some very intimate, personal information.
That’s why it’s so important to find the right attorney.
You want someone who makes you feel comfortable about sharing such information, and you want to make sure that they’re someone who will fight for your rights as an ex-spouse and parent if the need arises.
Factors to Consider Before Hiring an Attorney for Your Family
When you need to hire a family law attorney, consider these factors first to ensure that you hire the very best one for your needs.
Your Top Priority: The Reputation of the Lawyer Your Considering
The very first thing you should consider is the reputation of the attorney.
Getting this information is easier than ever.
There are a number of online resources, with review sites like Yelp giving consumers the ability to tell their side of the story to a larger audience.
Another option is to get a peer review. This is where other attorneys evaluate the performance of an attorney.
Why should you consider this option?
Generally, personal reviews are extremely helpful. However, they’re not immune to bias. Nearly anyone can post a review on these sites, so someone who has a grudge against an attorney can easily make disparaging remarks which may or may not be true.
A peer review is a professional resource in which other legal professional give you input regarding the best attorneys in your area.
Of course, word-of-mouth is another way to determine the reputation of a family law attorney. This is especially helpful if you live in a small community. Knowing how others in your area feel about an attorney can be a great source of insight when it comes time to make your decision.
What about the Cost? Do They Do Pro Bono Work?
Another consideration should be the cost. You’ll have to do some research to find a family law attorney who has the best reputation within an affordable price range.
There have been instances in which a judge has required that the spouse who earns the most money in the family pay for both their legal fees and those of their ex.
This doesn’t happen all the time, though. And there are cases where neither spouse is in a position to pay for their own legal fees, let alone those of another person.
Does this mean their only option is to make legal decisions on their own? Absolutely not.
There are a number of family law attorneys who are willing to do pro bono work for people who are having financial difficulties.
You might be able to find a federally-funded program, charitable organization, or law school clinic that will cover the cost of an attorney or that provides legal services for free or at a more affordable price.
And there are some attorneys who do pro bono work, too.
How do you find the best pro bono attorney?
It’s best to check with your local or state bar association. They will have a list of attorneys who offer counsel on a pro bono basis.
Of course, these attorneys generally can’t afford to provide 100% of their client list with free counsel, but they are willing to provide it for a handful of cases. You’ll need to contact them to find out if your circumstances and needs fit their requirements.
Make Sure You Feel Comfortable Talking with Them
You and your lawyer will be spending quite a bit of time together through this process. In order to serve your needs the best and ensure that they can serve as an advocate for your rights, you need to feel comfortable with them.
If you consult with a lawyer who intimidates you, talks down to you, or tries to push you into a course of action you’re not comfortable with – this is not the attorney for you.
The right attorney will make you feel at ease.
Before hiring them, get a sense of how they operate and see if you’re comfortable with that.
Remember, too, that family law is not an easy area to work in. A family law attorney has to deal with sometimes upsetting custody battles and ex-spouses who are openly hostile or refuse to cooperate. It can be stressful.
To help things run smoothly, you need to:
- Always be honest with your attorney
- Speak candidly with them
- Ask questions to make sure you’re both on the same page
- Discuss compensation up front so there’s no confusion
- Be organized and bring in all documents they request or that you think they’ll need
- Keep them informed of any changes.
Does This Family Law Attorney Have the Necessary Experience?
If your divorce case is complex – either due to money, property, or custody issues – it’s best to hire an attorney with a lot of experience.
This isn’t to say that newer attorneys should never be hired. To the contrary, the skills and knowledge they’ve received at law school and internships allow them to care properly for their clients.
However, there are some cases in which there’s a lot of red tape or other complications that require the expertise of someone who has been around the block a few times.
Hiring an attorney with more experience will be more expensive, but it will be worth it to ensure that you, your assets, and any children involved are protected.
Keep the Peace and Protect Your Rights with the Right Attorney
Going through a breakup is stressful for everyone involved – you, your ex, and any kids you may have. That stress can even affect extended family and friends.
The cause for this is often the emotions a couple is feeling during the breakup process, including anger and hurt feelings.
These feelings are hard enough to deal with, but when you feel those emotions toward someone you’ve been so close to for so long they are amplified.
This can make it really difficult to make decisions regarding the breakup in a quick and peaceful manner. And that’s why having a family law attorney to help is so important.
The lawyer is a neutral party who will help you and your ex come to some important decisions in a calmer, more peaceful manner.
Of course, a lawyer will fight for you when necessary. They’re going to make sure that their client’s rights are not trampled upon.
When you hire the right family law attorney, they’ll help reduce some of the stress of the situation, as well as ensure that your rights are protected and that you get what you’re entitled to.
If you’re going through a breakup and think you can handle the details of this breakup on your own, you might want to reconsider.
Hiring an attorney can save a lot of time and energy, making the process emotionally intense than if you had to try and do everything on your own.
There’s no shame in asking for help. In this situation, it can very well serve as a protection.