Family law is one of the most sensitive yet complicated branches of law. According to recent data, there are over 63,000 family law practices in the U.S today.
Family law attorneys are quite common. However, finding the best family lawyer is not an easy task. Before settling for the first attorney you meet, there are numerous things you should know about these lawyers.
This article will guide you on how to find the best family lawyer and what to know about them.
What Does a Family Law Attorney Do?
Most people don’t know who family lawyers are and what they do. Others don’t know anything about family law. This is a common occurrence, and don’t feel embarrassed to ask these questions.
A family lawyer handles any cases related to family issues and problems. Some common issues handled by family law attorneys include divorce, marital property division, alimony, and child custody. Family domestic violence lawyers also handle cases involving abandoning or endangering a child, child abuse, and domestic violence in some situations.
How to Hire a Lawyer
A family law attorney handles cases related to child support, marriage, divorce, guardianship, and adoption. Family law is a subdivision of civil law. However, it’s isolated and separate from the criminal justice system.
You can also benefit from hiring the best family attorney, if you need a prenuptial agreement or you’re looking to adopt a child.
Before hiring a family lawyer, there are several things you should know. Read on below to find out how to hire the best family lawyer:
1. Determine If You Require a Family Attorney
Look at your case and ensure you correctly categorize it. If you need help with any legal matter pertaining to your family, you probably need a family law attorney. Below are circumstances that call for the help of a family lawyer:
- Restraining order
- Child adoption
- Child support and child custody
- Modification of a divorce agreement
- Marriage annulment, divorce, or legal separation
- Creating a prenuptial and a postnuptial agreement
Knowing what kind of a lawyer you need is the first step to hiring the best one. If you need help with any of the above situations, ensure you contact a Chicago divorce lawyer or family law attorney as soon as possible for advice.
2. Determine Your Location
Typically, if you’re looking to file a family law case, the case is often handled in the state where you and the other party live. One example is when filing for a divorce. You are required to file a divorce where you and your spouse live.
Most often, legal cases are tried in the plaintiff’s state of residence. The plaintiff is the individual filing the case.
However, there are exceptions to this rule. These exceptions include if the person lives in multiple states or is in the military.
3. Look for a Lawyer in the Right Location
After deciding to file your claim, start looking for a lawyer in your state. Start by making a list of all possible lawyers you would like to hire. The sooner you start your search, the faster you will get the right legal advice.
Below are several ways you can find the right attorney:
- Searching on the American Bar Association’s database for qualified attorneys
- Using your state’s bar association web page
- Using online public-interest sites
- Use online website directories to find reputable attorneys
- Check out local yellow pages
- Ask your family, friends, and colleagues for referrals and recommendations
There are many online directories and databases of legit and highly qualified attorneys. You can search for attorneys based on location and area of expertise. You can also write down the contact information of any family lawyers advertising their services.
4. Do a Lot of Research
After creating a list of potential attorneys, it’s time to do background checks. Check online for their information and customer reviews about their services. Below are ways you can do some research:
Almost all attorneys have a business website where they list their contact information and area of specialization. You can also find information about the lawyer’s qualifications, experience, and client testimonials.
b. Press Releases and News Stories
This is an excellent source of information for both established law firms and individual attorneys. However, remember that press releases are often done as a public relations campaign for the attorney or law firm that released them.
c. Social Media Platforms
Law firms such as Verhaeghe Law and independent attorneys are in business; thus, they will always advertise their services and achievements on social media. Run a search on all social media platforms, including LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, for everyone on your list. Their posts and profiles could be a goldmine of information about their business and how they handle clients.
5. Talk to Friends and Family Members Who Have Hired Any Lawyers on Your List
Ask your friends and family about their experience with their family law attorney. Based on your research, rule out any attorney that you’re no longer considering. This will make it easier to investigate the remaining individuals on the list.
Below are essential questions you should ask about your potential attorney:
- How did the attorney handle your case?
- Was the attorney helpful?
- Were they honest and transparent regarding the services they offer and fees?
- Was the attorney available to answer your questions?
- Were they on time for appointments and court proceedings?
- Did they keep you in the loop about your case?
Ask your family members and friends about their experience with that attorney. Depending on how they answered the above questions, you will have a rough idea about the lawyer and how they handle clients’ cases.
6. Check Their Reviews Online
Whenever you’re buying something from an online store, it’s habitual to check online reviews to determine if it’s any good. Why not do the same with an attorney? Check online for client reviews of the attorneys you’re considering.
Ensure you check reviews on their websites, social media pages, and other unbiased websites. It’s essential to have as much information about your future attorney as possible before making a decision.
7. Start Eliminating Names From the List
Start narrowing down your choices based on the information you have gathered about the lawyers. Eliminate all attorneys that don’t meet your needs or are not good at helping their clients. Ensure your list remains with three or four names, and start working from there.
The best way to narrow down your choices is by looking at your finances and personal situation. These two factors will help you determine the best lawyer to represent you. Remember also to listen to your instinct and cross any name that doesn’t feel right with you.
After asking for references and researching online, you should have a rough idea about who your top choices are. However, don’t settle until you meet them in person. Testing attorney-client chemistry is essential before hiring them.
8. Call Your Top Three Choices
Today, most lawyers and law firms offer a free initial consultation to potential clients. You can book an over-the-phone appointment or an in-person one—however, some charge for in-person meetings.
If your attorney offers a free initial consultation, take advantage of this time to know as much about their services as possible. Ask them the below questions:
- Do you charge extra for in-person consultations?
- How much will it cost to handle my case?
- Are the fees negotiable, and what payment plans do you currently have?
- What information do you need from me during the consultation?
- How long have you practiced law?
- How many cases have you handled that are similar to mine?
- What are the possible outcomes of my case?
- Can you provide me with references from past clients?
- Who will handle my case?
These questions will help you gauge the attorney’s fees, level of experience, and customer service. In-person meetings are the best to test how comfortable you are with the attorney.
Family law cases are very sensitive. Since your attorney will have access to your life’s sensitive issues, it’s better to choose the one you’re comfortable with.
The Benefits of Hiring the Right Family Law Attorney
There are many benefits of hiring a family law attorney. Even if the situation is amicable, having an attorney on your team is still a good idea. Even if you are going through a divorce and your spouse is not objecting to your requests, you may still need an attorney to represent you.
Below are the benefits of having an attorney on your side:
1. They Understand Family Law
Family lawyers have extensive knowledge and experience on all issues related to family law. They can evaluate your case and advice you on the best possible approach. They will also explain your situation and help you get fair treatment.
The best family law attorney will ensure that you are not being taken advantage of by the other party.
2. They Know Procedures of Family Law Cases
Family lawyers know all the procedures to follow when handling cases. They can help you with everything from drafting documents to going through the court and settling with the other lawyer.
Your lawyer can hold your hand through these processes, help you fight your case confidently, and tell you all the possible outcomes for your case. This allows you to better prepare for what may come.
3. Emotional Support
Family problems that constitute legal action can be quite nerve-wracking and emotionally exhausting. Having a lawyer to handle some of the issues can help you relieve some of the burdens. You will have peace of mind knowing that someone is fighting to get you the justice you deserve.
4. Unbiased View
Your family law attorney will view your problem from an objective and professional stance. They will give you a professional opinion and help you understand where you stand. Your lawyer will also give you honest feedback about your case, allowing you to decide how to proceed.
Does Hiring an Attorney Mean You Will Win?
Hiring a lawyer doesn’t guarantee you 100% victory. However, it may increase your chances of winning the case or getting your desired outcome.
Unfortunately, other factors also impact your chances of winning a case. These factors include the time your lawyer has to prepare, their level of experience, and the strength of your case.
Hiring a lawyer also shows the other party that you are serious about the case. It also prevents them from taking advantage of you as your lawyer will fight for your rights.
How Much Do Family Law Attorneys Charge?
Different lawyers have different charges. These charges may depend on your location, the type of family law case you have, and the amount of time it takes to complete the case. Most lawyers prefer charging by the hour.
The average rate of family lawyers’ hourly rates ranges from $100 to $400. In many cases, your lawyer will request a retainer before they get started. A retainer is like a deposit.
If you don’t have the money to hire an attorney, there are other feasible options. Some firms and lawyers often take pro bono cases as a way to give back to the community. Others have a payment plan or offer discounts to make their services more affordable.
If you don’t have enough money, don’t let it discourage you from filing your case. Doing a little digging could go a long way in finding affordable representation or finding a lawyer who will represent you pro bono.
Are You Ready to Hire the Best Family Lawyer?
Now that you understand what a family law attorney can do for you, are you ready to go ahead and hire one to represent you? To get the best family lawyer, remember to follow the information outlined in this article.
Remember that all lawyers are different. Hire a “family attorney near me” with experience, the right qualifications, and good customer service skills. If you don’t know what to look for in an attorney, you may end up hiring the wrong person to handle your case.
For more tips, check out other articles on our site.