How to Select a Family Law Attorney
Relationships are complex. Perhaps you want to get a divorce. Or maybe you have a disagreement with your former spouse over child custody and support agreements. Or maybe you want to create a new relationship by adopting a child. Family law refers to all aspects of the legal relationships between family members, including the relationships between parents, children, spouses and domestic partners. If you are getting married, divorced or dealing with legal issues related to child custody and support, you may need to hire a family law attorney.
The decision to hire a particular lawyer is a serious one. You are putting your trust and confidence in this attorney, so it pays to do your research and ask a lot of questions before deciding to hire a specific lawyer.
Schedule an Initial Consultation
Upon making contact, you'll want to make an appointment for an initial consultation. At this meeting, you'll have the opportunity to briefly describe the nature of your issue. You can also take the time to learn more about the attorney and his or her experience handling issues similar to yours.
Before the meeting, you should make a list of questions that you want to ask. Questions to consider include:
- What kind of experience do you have handling issues similar to mine?
- Do you have experience before the local family law court?
- What is your assessment of my case or legal issue?
- How would you handle an issue like mine?
- Do you have the time to represent me?
- How much do you estimate it will cost to resolve my issue, including your fees and other costs?
How Much Does a Family Law Attorney Cost?
Most attorneys bill by the hour for their work. Billing rates can vary depending on where in the country you live, how experienced of an attorney you hire and the type of work being performed. Rates are as low as $100 per hour in some parts of the country, but more typical rates are several hundred dollars an hour, or more. Some attorneys are willing to charge a flat fee for simple legal matters.
At your initial consultation, ask the lawyer for a list of estimated costs. You'll also want to know how frequently you'll be billed and when payment will be due. Some lawyers will ask you to pay a retainer, which is an advance deposit that is applied to future legal bills.
Hiring a lawyer requires research and patience, but also a bit of gut instinct. Only you can decide whether you feel comfortable and can trust the attorney's legal advice.