Choosing the right lawyer to guide you through the divorce process can be difficult. Even if you have been referred to a specific attorney by someone you trust, it is still important to do your research. Below are questions to consider when deciding if an attorney is qualified to handle your family law matter.
How much of your time is dedicated to the practice of family law and how long have you been practicing?
The issues in family law cases are complex and diverse. A family law attorney must have a strong knowledge of state laws and county rules applicable to child custody, the various financial aspects of divorce (property division, alimony and post-separation support, child support) and domestic violence. Practicing family law also requires an understanding of real estate, corporate, tax, bankruptcy and employment laws, as well as psychology, addiction, and child behavior. If an attorney does not dedicate the large majority of his or her practice to family law, it may be unlikely that he or she can bring the requisite knowledge and experience to the situation or give your case the attention it will need. Additionally, an experienced attorney can prepare you for what to expect at a hearing, a specific judge’s tendencies, strategies to use in negotiating an out of court agreement, and describe how much your case will cost you financially and emotionally.
What are your fees and how will I be charged?
It is typical for family law attorneys to charge an hourly rate for the legal services they provide. The rates for attorneys can vary and depend on a number of factors such as experience level, market trends, and geographic location. It is also common for paralegals to charge an hourly rate for the work they may perform related to a specific matter. When considering the cost of hiring a family law attorney, it can be helpful to find a firm with several lawyers who offer different hourly rates for addressing your needs.
At Hatcher Law Group, our attorneys charge for their time by the tenth of the hour. We provide clients with a detailed fee contract upfront that defines the scope of the work we expect to perform and the anticipated costs associated with that work.
What other costs do you expect will be involved?
Your case may require additional costs and services, such as filing fees, court reporters, process servers, private investigators, experts, accountants, and mental health professionals.
How do you resolve disputes?
Again, it is important to understand the attorney’s experience and how that experience can be applied to your case. Some attorneys have more experience litigating cases than others. If you have a highly contested action that you know will be litigated, then you may want to choose an attorney who has significant courtroom experience. Alternatively, if you believe your issues will be resolved out of court, then selecting an attorney who has experience negotiating and drafting detailed settlement documents may be the right fit for you.
How do you work with your clients?
Attorneys work differently with their clients based on the attorney’s personality and approach to the practice of law, as well as the client’s participation in the matter. A client should be comfortable in how the attorney will approach his or her case. Knowing what to expect from the beginning can be beneficial in establishing a strong attorney-client relationship. Some points to think about:
- Many attorneys will have a paralegal or legal assistant who assists with his or her cases and clients. In addition, some attorneys may also delegate various work and responsibilities to an associate attorney.
- It is important to know how the attorney and his or her staff communicate with clients, as well as the methods of communication that are used (i.e., email, telephone conferences, fax, etc.).
- Being comfortable with the frequency of your interaction with the attorney is important. Regular communication with your attorney will keep you up to date on the progress of your case and aware of requests for additional information relevant to your matter.
- While an attorney may not always be immediately available because of court, depositions, meetings with other clients, etc., he or she should be prompt in responding to your emails, texts and telephone messages.
- Just as a client should expect timely responses from an attorney, the client also has a responsibility to respond to his or her attorney’s inquiries.
- While an attorney cannot guarantee favorable results, he or she should give you a realistic assessment of your legal situation as well as a recommended plan of action based on your individual circumstances and goals.
- Personal compatibility with your attorney and his or her staff is important. Family law issues can be highly personal and a client should feel secure in sharing sensitive information.
Our Attorneys Can Help
It is important to hire an attorney who you believe will zealously represent your interests, communicate with you effectively, and is realistic about what you are facing. At Hatcher Law Group, we believe our peer and client recognition and experience speaks volumes for what we bring to the equation. If you are involved in a family law matter, our attorneys can help. Please contact us to schedule a consultation with a family law attorney.