7 Questions to Ask a Family Law Attorney Before You Hire Them

Jul 29 08:12 2016 Jen Mur Print This Article

Hiring a family law attorney is one of the most important decisions you'll make. It's your family on the line. Here are seven questions to make sure the attorney fighting for you is best suited for your unique case.

How do you know which attorney is best for you?

Most people probably have a dozen in a few mile radius,Guest Posting a hundred in their county and thousands within their state. Yes, it takes a lot to pass the bar exam and become an attorney. But it takes a lot more than an A grade to excel as your attorney.

Your is italicized there for a reason. Attorneys don’t come in a one-size fits all category; they need to fit your needs, desires and specifications.

What do you want in a lawyer?

Everyone wants a successful lawyer in their corner and many will have examples of how they are just that (no one advertises loses). Phoenix family law attorney Scott Stewart advises his potential clients to have many consultations prior to hiring an attorney to find out what else they’re looking for.

“The more selective you are in choosing a divorce attorney, the more confident you will be, both in representation and in the legal proceedings,” says Stewart, owner of Stewart Law Group.

 

Here are seven question to ask a family law or divorce attorney during the consultation:

1. Is your law firm focused solely on divorce and family law or multiple practice areas?

Family law matters are handled in family courts, not judicial ones. It’s literally a whole new courtroom with judges who only play in the family arena. An ideal attorney is someone who regularly interacts with the family courts and is current on the ever changing family laws. Of course, experience also comes into play here- if they’ve yet to handle a child custody hearing but only practice family law you may still want to continue your search. A seasoned and one-practice attorney should have a skilled team prepared to effectively and efficiently help you.

One exception: attorneys are more likely to be efficient in multiple practice areas when you live in a small town.

2. Will you be the attorney handling my case or will it be handed off to another                     attorney at the firm?

At some firms, the attorney you meet with will not be the person handling your case. The initial consultation is not only for you to feel out the attorney, but for them to outline and explain possible courses of action they can take for you. This means you are sharing pivotal information about your legal matter with them- information the attorney handling your case not only needs to know, but needs to hear from you. If they say someone else will handle the case ask to meet with that person and get their contact information before leaving.

3. What credentials do you and your firm bring to my representation?

Examine the entire firm’s - partners, associates and paralegals-  qualifications, credentials and awards. Becoming a Certified Family Law Specialist is one of the most notable credentials awarded on a state level. Only awarded to a select number of attorneys in a state, it requires additional schooling, legal writings and hours logged. Other possibilities may include certifications, legal memberships and authorship.

4. What is your communication style with clients?

Attorneys are busy and you are most likely not their sole client; however, that doesn’t mean returning your phone calls in a reasonable time (within 24 hours) is optional. Will you get the quickest response through email or phone calls? Will you always speak with them or a paralegal? Will they provide copies of all the documents related to your case? This includes orders issued by the courts, documents filed with the court, and correspondence between the other side’s attorneys. Make sure their communication style either matches yours or suits your desires. You can check out reviews also to see if they match what they tell you.

5. Have you, anyone potentially handling my case or working at your firm been sanctioned for an attorney ethics violation?

Attorneys are held to high ethical standards and separate from the bar, must also pass an ethics exam before receiving their attorney status. State Bar boards regulate all attorneys under them and will discipline when they see fit for various ethic violations like professional misconduct. Punishments may include a reprimand, probation, suspension, restitution and even revocation of their license (though you shouldn’t run into the latter during a consultation). Such punishments are not directed down lightly; make sure you can trust your selected attorney - and their staff- to handle your case in a professional manner with competence and character.

6. Do they have experience handling high asset property divisions or finding hidden assets?

This question should be tailored to your specific needs. Every divorce is unique but most include dividing up property and some unfortunately come with attempts to hide property from their soon to be ex-spouses. Depending on your family’s assets, business deals, stock portfolios, tax and debt issues, etc your attorney will need to be well-versed in high asset divorces to ensure your property remains yours.

7. How much will your legal representation cost?

This is the last question because you should now know their qualifications and professional background and they should know intimate details about your family law matter. After all this is done, they should be able to provide a base estimate of what they will charge for legal services and you can asses if it’s reasonable. Don’t forget the details though- ask if there’s an up-front fee, what their billing process is like, how they bill their time and if there’s extra charges for having to appear in court.

 

Choosing a family law attorney is one of the most important decisions you’ll make at a highly emotional time. Read reviews, meet multiple qualified attorneys and ask them the tough questions.

There’s only one goal at the end of the family court system: the most favorable results possible for you and your children.

 

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About Article Author

Jen Mur
Jen Mur

Jen Mur is the marketing specialist for Phoenix divorce lawyer Scott Stewart of the Stewart Law Group. 

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