Important Considerations when Choosing a Family or Divorce Attorney

There are many attorneys that practice in the area of family law/divorce. Choosing a family lawyer is an incredibly important decision, as it will have a direct impact on the time, cost, and outcome of the case, as well as how smoothly the case runs. Some important things to consider:

1. Trust. This is the most important. If you do not have the confidence and trust in your attorney, you should not hire them or continue with them if already involved in a case.

2. Find an attorney whose personality is compatible with yours, and whose style and approach will be effective for meeting your goals. Even among the best family lawyers, not every attorney is best for every client, or every type of case.

3. Your attorney should be up front with you from the first meeting about the merits of your case, and should be very clear about what you can expect. Your attorney should keep you on the right side of the case and the court, and should be clear with you about all strengths and weakness in your case. An effective family lawyer will make sure your expectations are in line with reality, and will not simply tell you what you want to hear. Also, keep in mind that your attorney does not have a crystal ball, and cannot guarantee a particular outcome, but should give you a range of possibilities based on experience along with a cost vs. benefit analysis of any particular scenario.

4. Consider hiring an attorney that focuses primarily on family law/divorce. Family law is a highly specialized area, and if your attorney is handling personal injury cases, workers compensation, social security, DUI's, etc., they may not have the experience, time, or patience that is required for your case.

5. Be cautious of a family attorney that describes themselves as “aggressive”. This is a marketing buzzword, and there is a difference between an effective, zealous advocate, and a disrespectful, unprofessional, and/or abusive lawyer. Make sure you know which you are dealing with, as the latter will do more harm than good.

6. Be clear about the fee, and always ask for a written fee agreement. Family attorneys typically charge by either an hourly rate or by fixed fee. If paying hourly, ask for an estimate of time depending on how far the case goes. If paying by fixed fee, make sure that you know what events in the case might trigger additional fixed fees. Also, be sure you know if you are paying for expenses, such as mileage, copies, or postage, on top of time or fixed fee charges.