5 tips when hiring a family lawyer
Hiring a good family lawyer is extremely important when you are facing a divorce or child custody case. There are several ways that you can find the best attorney for your case.
- Find a lawyer that practices primarily in family law.
The first step in hiring a good family lawyer is to figure out which one you want to talk to. A good place to start is with personal recommendations. If your friends have been through a divorce or custody case, they may be able to tell you about their experience with a particular attorney and tell you whether or not they would recommend using that lawyer for your case. If you know an attorney that you trust, you may want to ask that lawyer who they would recommend to take a divorce or custody case.
Many people now look online when they want to hire a lawyer. You might check online directories or the state bar’s website to find a Sunshine coast family law attorney. It is a good idea to find a lawyer who practices primarily in the area of family law and who has at least several years of experience practicing law. Many law firms have attorneys available who specialize in a particular area such as criminal defense, bankruptcy or divorce.
Most law offices now have websites where you can find more information about the attorney you are considering hiring. Attorneys often post helpful blog posts relevant to questions that you have that demonstrate their knowledge in a particular area of the law. You might also check to see if the attorney has any online reviews to get a good idea of how established the attorney is in the community and what the experience with the lawyer has been like for previous clients.
- Schedule a consultation.
The first step in hiring an attorney is to schedule your first meeting. Usually you can simply call the attorney’s office and book an appointment with the receptionist. Many law office websites now have forms online where you can provide your contact information and request a consultation. It’s a good idea to provide a few facts about your case so that the person calling you back can advise you about whether or not their office handles that type of case.
Make sure that you ask about how much the attorney charges for a consultation when you schedule the meeting. Some lawyers offer a free consultation while others charge an initial consultation fee, which usually ranges from about $50 to 200 for a 30-minute to one-hour meeting.
It doesn’t hurt to speak to several lawyers before deciding which one you want to trust to handle your case. Just because an attorney has a great website and glowing reviews online does not mean that the lawyer is the right one for you. Pick an attorney you feel comfortable with since you will be sharing a lot of personal details with your attorney in a family law matter.
- Explain the facts of your case. Ask about the attorney’s experience with cases similar to your own.
During an initial consultation, you will usually be asked to provide some of the facts of your case, For example, if you are seeking legal counsel to represent you in a divorce case, you will be asked information about marital property and debt, whether or not any children were born of the marriage and whether or not you are seeking primary custody of any minor children.
An initial meeting is a good opportunity to ask about an attorney’s experience handling cases similar to your own and if the attorney has any initial comments on your case. Some family law attorneys focus on a specific area such as cases that involve father’s rights, military divorce or domestic violence. An attorney’s website will often contain information about the attorney’s experience in this area. The initial consultation is a good time to determine how the attorney will apply their experience to your case.
- Make sure you understand the attorney-client representation agreement and how you will be billed before signing a contract.
Read every word of the contract that an attorney provides you to sign. It is important to understand all terms in the agreement before you sign it. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if there is anything you do not understand. You should understand what the scope of the representation and how you will be billed.
Many family lawyers use an hourly billing system and charge a retainer up front. After the retainer is used up, you will be sent a bill for any additional services. The representation agreement should advise you about what you will be billed for and how much it will cost. It is good to know if the attorney will bill in increments. It is common for attorneys who use hourly billing to bill in 6-minute or 15-minute increments.
Another type of fee structure that is common for family law attorneys is a flat fee arrangement. The client pays a one-time fee for the attorney to do a specific job. This is most common for uncontested divorce cases and less common for contested child custody cases since it may be difficult to determine at the beginning how long the case will take.
- Be honest with your attorney, and follow your attorney’s advice.
When you are working with a lawyer, it is important to do your part and take your lawyer’s advice very seriously. For example, if your attorney advises you to take down your social media accounts while your case is pending, you should do this because the attorney is likely speaking from experience about the impact that not following this advice could have on your case.
Failing to be honest with your lawyer can have a devastating impact on your case. All attorneys would rather know about surprising information when they are in their office meeting with their client rather than during the middle of a trial. An attorney needs time to prepare for any negative facts in your case. You should not be afraid to share the bad facts in your case with a lawyer because everything you say to your attorney is confidential unless you give your attorney permission to share the information.