If you are bracing for an impending divorce, preparing for a child custody determination, or facing any other legal matter in family court, you need legal counsel you can trust to guide you through this challenging situation. However, finding the right attorney to handle your case can seem like a challenge, and it’s vital to spend time researching your options for legal representation as carefully as possible. One of the best ways to determine whether an attorney is right for you is to schedule a consultation with a prospective family law attorney in your area.
A consultation is essentially an interview that allows you to determine whether an attorney is right for handling your case. At the same time, a consultation allows an attorney to determine whether they are willing to represent a potential client. The consultation process is relatively straightforward, and scheduling one typically requires little more than a phone call or email to a local attorney’s office. However, before you start scheduling meetings with potential attorneys, it’s essential to know what to expect during a consultation and how to approach the situation.
Narrowing Down Your Options
Before you schedule any consultations with lawyers in your area, you should conduct some preliminary research to ensure those attorneys would be suitable candidates for your legal counsel. Ask friends and family for recommendations and browse reviews of local attorneys from past clients. These reviews can help you gauge the best and worst aspects of these attorneys. In addition, be sure to check an attorney’s testimonials on their own website as well as reviews on third-party websites for a more well-rounded view of their past clients’ experiences.
You should aim to create a list of the best candidates you can find in your area before you start scheduling meetings with these attorneys. However, before you schedule your first consultations, you should take time to develop a list of questions that will help you gauge an attorney’s suitability for handling your case. There are several general questions you should ask, and you should take time to develop questions around the unique aspects of your case and the issues that are most concerning to you.
Important Questions to Ask During a Consultation
Every divorce will entail unique issues, and everyone who goes through the divorce process will have different needs and concerns. Therefore, before you attend a consultation with an attorney, you should prepare a list of questions that will assist you in determining whether the attorney is the right fit for your case.
Ask the attorney about their experience. A few examples of good questions to help you evaluate a lawyer’s experience level include:
- How long have you practiced family law?
- How many divorce cases have you handled?
- Have you represented clients with situations similar to mine?
Their answers should help you determine the attorney’s experience level. While many new attorneys are very enthusiastic and talented, there is no real substitute for practical experience in securing legal representation.
A few follow-up questions can help you determine how prepared the attorney is to handle the unique aspects of your case:
- Do you notice anything strange or unusual about my situation?
- What challenges and opportunities might I encounter in my divorce proceedings?
- What is your initial impression of my situation?
Their answers to these questions will help you gauge the attorney’s ability to handle the unique demands of your situation. A good divorce attorney should have a wide range of experience to draw upon in handling any client’s case, and this means the attorney should have a solid record of successfully handling many types of cases.
You should also ask a few questions that will help you determine what you can expect from the attorney as your case unfolds in terms of the cost of their representation:
- How do you bill your clients?
- Do you offer flat-fee billing for any specific legal services?
- How long do you expect my case to take?
- How much time do you expect to spend on my case each day?
- How often can I expect updates from you, and how can I reach you with questions?
Their responses to these questions will help you estimate the potential cost of their legal fees and help you understand what it will be like working with the attorney. Your divorce is likely to raise many complex financial issues, some of which can influence your life for years to come. It’s natural to have concerns about the potential cost of legal fees. A good lawyer should provide their client with multiple options for contacting them for updates. They should also maintain a reasonable caseload to ensure every client has access to their resources and advice when they need it.
Finally, you should ask questions regarding strategy and their most likely approach to handling your case:
- Do you expect my case to go to litigation?
- Is alternative dispute resolution possible in my situation?
- What happens if my case can’t be resolved through alternative dispute resolution?
Most modern divorce attorneys encourage clients to take advantage of alternative dispute resolution whenever possible. This will save the client time and money on their divorce while allowing them to have more control over the outcome. However, alternative dispute resolution isn’t always a feasible option. There is no guarantee that alternative dispute resolution will allow the divorcing couple to reach agreeable terms on every aspect of their divorce. The attorney should be able to convey how they would handle these situations.
Selecting Your Divorce Attorney
A consultation is the best way to evaluate whether an attorney is right for you. Experience, availability, cost of representation, and strategy are all vital considerations when choosing an attorney. Still, ultimately you should hire the attorney who makes you feel the most confident about your situation. While it’s vital to search for the right lawyer, you should not delay securing legal representation when you face a divorce, child custody dispute, or other complex family law matter. The sooner you consult an experienced family law attorney, the better prepared you will be to handle the challenges of your case.