Let’s face it. You need an experienced family law or divorce lawyer if you want to protect your legal rights in your separation, divorce or family law case.
For example, you would easily find yourself overwhelmed in family court despite your thorough preparation.
I know you’re thinking: how do I even settle my legal issues with my ex-spouse and get out of this mess?
As you scan every word of this page, you will shortly feel a sense of calmness since you will know how to hire the best family lawyer for your particular situation.
To get even more details about hiring the right family lawyer, read this key article on how to work with a family law and divorce lawyer to protect your family law rights.
7 Important Steps to Picking the Right Family Lawyer
or Divorce Lawyer For You
Follow these 7 important steps to hire the right family lawyer who can help you protect your legal rights in your separation, divorce, or family court case:
- The best way to find a family lawyer is recommendations from friends and others who you respect. If you get a recommendation from a friend who has used a particular lawyer and this friend was happy with that lawyer, you should give serious consideration to your friend’s recommendation.
- Only hire a lawyer who has several years of family law experience. Your legal rights are at stake in your case. You cannot take the chance of hiring an inexperienced family lawyer to represent you in court.
Do not hire a lawyer who does little or no family law or divorce legal work regardless of the number of years that this person has been a lawyer. If you have a lawyer who does not do much family law or divorce law, you could face some serious problems in your family law case.
- If a family lawyer tells you that you should get revenge against your spouse, you should not use this lawyer. Your goal is to get a reasonable settlement with your spouse that protects your legal rights. You will spend thousands of unnecessary dollars if you want revenge and it certainly will not help you in the long run.
- Make sure any family lawyer you are considering to hire gives you an honest assessment of your divorce family law case. You should not even start a family law case in family court until an experienced family lawyer tells you that you have a good chance of success on the important issues in your case.
You must understand your legal rights clearly and the merits of your case before you go to family court.
- Prepare specific questions to ask a family lawyer at your initial consultation or first meeting. Make sure you ask specific questions about how to protect your legal rights.
Pay for the initial consultation with an experienced family lawyer so that you can get a full hour with the lawyer and you have the lawyer’s full attention. When you go to a free consultation for 20 or 30 minutes, the family lawyer does not have enough time to fully understand or assess your case and explain your legal rights to you.
- Make sure your lawyer understands that you only want to do what is in the best interests of your children. Do not use any family lawyer who suggests that you use children as any type of bargaining chip to get more from your former spouse.
- You must use your “gut” or instinct to make the final decision about hiring a particular family lawyer. If your gut tells you have found the right family lawyer, hire this lawyer.
But if you feel uneasy at all about this lawyer, you should keep looking for the right family lawyer for you. In this situation, your “gut” is telling you this is the wrong family lawyer for you.
When you follow your “gut” instinct about whether or not to hire a particular lawyer to be your family lawyer, you are following the best approach to pick a family lawyer. Believe it or not!
Interviewing A Family Law or Divorce Lawyer
There’s a lot of questionable advice out there from friends, family, and co-workers about picking a lawyer. They tell you: interview 3 or 4 or 5 family law lawyers and then pick one. When somebody tells you what they’re going to do, you ask: “What criteria are you going to use, to compare them, judge them, and pick one?”
Many admit: they don’t know.
They are going to spend 3, 4, 5 meetings interviewing different lawyers with no pre-determined way to select or choose the lawyer they will ultimately trust to handle one of the biggest and most important personal and financial events of their life!
Let me give you a comparison you may or may not know. When a company decides to hire somebody for an important job, let’s say one that costs the company $100,000 to $200,000 a year, they have a pre-determined set of questions- a set of criteria – they will use to judge the people that they interview. They know in advance what they are looking for. To do otherwise is to play “Blind Archery”, and that’s dangerous!
They NEVER interview a number of people and go with the one they “like”. Or rely on “he or she seemed nice?”. No. They use reason and logic.
Well, you are hiring somebody to do a very important job for you.
You should NOT play “Blind Archery”.
You need to know in advance the kind of family law or separation and divorce lawyer you want. The things that are most important to you. The smart questions to ask a potential family lawyer to represent you in your separation or divorce.
10 Key Questions To Ask Family Law or Divorce Lawyers
- How long have you been practicing law?
How much of your law practice is in the field of separation and divorce law or family law?
Other than separation and divorce law, what kinds of cases do you handle?
These questions give you a sense of the lawyer’s level of experience. If there is a possibility that any part of your case might be disputed or contested, you should try to hire a lawyer who has at least several years’ experience in handling family law cases.
Even if a lawyer has been practicing law for many years, if he or she does not have experience specifically in family law, he or she will not be of much benefit to you.
- Tell me about three of your cases that were the most meaningful for you and why.
The answer to this question is not as important as the lawyer’s attitude about answering it. Some lawyers may indicate that this is none of your business, or they may not be able to come up with an answer.
What you are looking for is a lawyer who will answer this question with passion or conviction. An enthusiastic answer demonstrates that the lawyer is concerned about their cases and their clients. You need a lawyer who cares about you not only as a source of income but as a person as well.
- How do you think the local judges perceive you, and which judge do you think is the best to have in a family law case?
The purpose of this question is not so much to find out how judges perceive the lawyer as it is to find out whether the lawyer cares how judges perceive him or her, and also whether he or she even gets in front of judges often enough for them to have formed an opinion.
Although courtroom experience is valuable, too-frequent court appearances may signal that a lawyer is unable or unwilling to settle cases. Or he or she may be too over-committed with other clients and cases to prepare sufficiently in advance. Clients whose cases should have been settled are forced into going through a trial unnecessarily.
Ideally, you need a lawyer who tries enough cases to be comfortable and effective in court but who also spends enough time on negotiation and preparation to ensure that you won’t have to go through a trial unless all other options have failed.
- How often are you in court?
How many open divorce and custody cases do you have right now?
How many divorce or custody trials have you had in the past year?
A lawyer who has fewer than 10 open divorce or custody cases (unless each case is extremely complex) probably does not do primarily divorce work. This does not necessarily mean that such a lawyer would not be a good one for your case, however. For example, a litigation lawyer who handles court cases on a number of different subjects besides family law would be a viable candidate as a lawyer, even with ten or fewer open divorce cases, as long as he or she had other positive attributes and adequate experience in family law. A lawyer who claims to 50 or more open cases may be overextended, unless he or she has a number of other lawyers or paralegals helping out.
- How long will it be before my case reaches completion?
A lawyer’s ability to accurately estimate how long your case will take shows that he or she has enough experience in these matters. You need this information for planning purposes as well. For example, you need to know how long it will be before you can remarry or whether you can afford to buy another house.
- What kind of results do you think we should be looking for in my case, and are these reasonable goals? Do you feel I have unreasonable expectations? If so, what are they and why?
These questions should help you determine what a lawyer thinks about your case and whether he or she will pursue your positions on the various family law issues in your case. If a lawyer doesn’t think you can get what you want, find out why. It may be that your motives are not grounded in reality. On the other hand, it could be that your case, although winnable, is too challenging for that particular lawyer.
- If you are not available to take my call, do you have someone else who will be able to speak to me? If not, how long will it take you to return my call?
A lawyer’s accessibility and responsiveness are important. When you ask a question, you should be able to get it answered within 24 hours during the week, Monday to Friday. A lawyer can ignore what he or she considers to be relatively minor questions or less-than-urgent problems. The problems is that these questions and problems can become crises that are either impossible or very expensive to resolve.
- What are the different phases of my case? Describe briefly how the process will work.
When you ask this question, you should gain insight into how far ahead your lawyer is thinking and his or her ability to plan. One of the valuable qualities a lawyer can have is the ability to make a long-term plan and stick to it. You do not want a lawyer who simply reacts to what the other side is doing and then send you a bill. A lawyer must not procrastinate until a situation turns into a crisis before doing anything.
If a lawyer answers this question with something like, “We can’t predict how things are going to turn out,” explain that you are not asking him or her to predict a result. Rather, you’re asking what the game plan is. A good lawyer will have a strategy in mind. General Swartzkopf didn’t go to the Persian Gulf and wait to see what would happen. He made things happen. You need a lawyer who will take control of the case, not a lawyer who will let circumstances and events do the controlling. Listen carefully and try to get an indication whether a lawyer is going to let the other lawyer set the tone or grab hold of the case and make it go away if he or she thinks it should.
- Why do you handle separation and divorce cases? Aren’t they difficult because of all the negative emotion?
The ideal lawyer is one who handles separation and divorce cases because he or she wants to help you and because he or she believes his or her legal skills and experience in this arena will benefit you, the client.
- This whole process of getting a separation or divorce and having to go to court (if this is necessary in my particular situation) has me really jumpy and concerned. I feel like everything is out of control. Is this normal? What should I do?
If a lawyer seems unwilling to talk to you about your personal concerns about your separation or divorce, this should be cause for concern. It is part of your lawyer’s job to try to understand your personal concerns and feelings and, to the extent that those feelings are intertwined with your legal situation, do whatever is possible from a legal standpoint to help you deal with your concerns and feelings.
Start Protecting Your Family Law Rights With One Call
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Family Law and Divorce Lawyer
Clearly you can see you need an experienced and dedicated family law and divorce lawyer to represent you in your separation or divorce.
Most importantly, your experienced family lawyer can start working on how to protect your legal rights with a good settlement from the start of your case.
There is no doubt about it: A well-prepared family law strategy to settle your separation, divorce or family law issues is the way to go to protect your legal rights and move on with your life.
Call Thomas O’Malley, a skilled and dedicated family law and divorce lawyer, now at 905-434-8837, to protect your family law rights. It’s your future!