Before Hiring an Attorney for Your Family Law Case, Ask a Few Key Questions

Choosing an attorney to represent you may be one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make. The more selective you are in choosing the best family law attorney for you, the more confidence you’ll have — in the representation and in the legal proceedings. Ultimately, you want favorable results for yourself and your children. Of course, you want to ask how much you’ll be charged for lawyer services, how much for paralegal services, how and when you will be billed, and how much of a retainer fee is required. But don’t make your decision based on fees alone. Here are a few questions you should also ask before you consider hiring a particular lawyer.

Key Question #1: Has the lawyer been sanctioned for an ethics violation?
Attorneys are held to high ethical standards regarding how they practice law and the customer service they provide to clients. Each state’s bar association regulates its members and, when necessary, disciplines attorneys with sanctions to punish for acts of professional misconduct. Arizona’s attorneys must be members in good standing with the State Bar of Arizona in order to practice law within the state.

A grievance filed against an attorney can lead to reprimand, probation, suspension, restitution, and revocation of the attorney’s license to practice law within the state. A relatively minor infraction may be the attorney’s failure to pay bar member dues timely, leading to an automatic suspension and an easy remedy. When an attorney’s conduct is egregious, as with a felony conviction, then automatic interim suspension followed by sanctions like disbarment may result. You need assurance that the character and competency of your attorney justifies your decision to hire.

Poor legal judgment causes problems for clients.
When hiring an attorney for your divorce, child custody, or parenting time matter, determine whether the lawyer has been disciplined, so ask:

— Was the attorney disciplined for mishandling a legal matter because of inexperience in the law?
— Did the attorney fail to adequately prepare the case?
— Did the attorney fail to get assistance from a more experienced attorney when they should have?
— Did the attorney fail to take reasonable steps to protect a client’s interests both during and after the representation?
— Did the attorney fail to put forth reasonable efforts to expedite the litigation, delaying a case unnecessarily?
— Did the attorney mishandle client funds?
— Did the attorney neglect an entrusted legal matter?
— Was the attorney advanced a legal fee, but failed to refund the unearned portion?
The exercise of poor legal judgment by an attorney can result in significant problems for a client.

Key Question #2: Is the lawyer’s practice focused on family law?
The one constant in the law is change, sometimes in an obvious way and sometimes in a hundred subtle ways. The courts continue to interpret laws differently, and our legislatures continue to pass new laws and change existing ones. Rules of civil procedure, evidence, and local court rules vary from one judge to the next. When the attorney’s legal practice is focused on family law, then that attorney is in sync with emerging trends in the field. Case management is very difficult to streamline when the attorney is not completely tuned in to the controlling laws. The experienced lawyer focused exclusively on family law, who has tried many divorce cases, has worked with complex asset divisions, has handled contested custody matters, and has been successful. That attorney will guide you through your case fluidly, efficiently, and knowledgeably. A focused practice is a focused lawyer.

Choose a family law practitioner.
You want to know whether the attorney you’re looking to retain has a genuine focus on family law, and is not merely dabbling in divorces as circumstances allow. These are the types of questions you should ask before hiring:
— Do you practice family law exclusively?
— What percentage of your law practice is devoted to family law?
— What access do you have to specialists and experts within your firm and outside your firm?
— How many years have you been practicing family law?
— Have you been litigating divorce trials for five years or more?
— Have you handled complex asset and property divisions in divorce?
— Are you well-versed in child custody matters?
— Are you recognized by the public and by your peers for your abilities and experience as a practitioner of family law?

If after your questions are answered, it is apparent that the attorney is not sufficiently experienced in family law, or lacks a genuine focus in family law practice, then keep your options open and continue interviewing other potential attorneys.

Key Question #3: Will this attorney be handling your case, beginning to end?
At some law firms, the attorney you meet in your initial consultation is not the attorney who will be representing you. Allowing your case to be assigned to whoever has a light schedule at the firm this week is not being very selective. You are not a commodity and neither are attorneys. Make sure to ask if the attorney you’re interviewing will actually be the attorney handling your case. Will some other lawyer at the firm be assigned to your case after you’ve paid your retainer fee?

The attorney you first meet may be the firm’s presenter, skilled at promoting the law firm and bringing in new clients. But the firm’s presenter may or may not be the lawyer who will be assigned to your case. If you’re interviewing one attorney, but will be working with another, then the prudent course of action is to interview the family law attorney who will actually handle your case. At the interview, ask the question: “Will you be the attorney handling my case?” If that answer is a negative, then ask “Who will be?” and interview that lawyer before you make a hiring decision.

Meet your new lawyer, in the middle of your case.

When you work with your lawyer, you necessarily develop a rapport. You’ve talked about your case face-to-face. You’ve talked on the phone. You’ve received written correspondence. You’ve given detailed descriptions and provided supporting documents. You’ve emailed a hundred times. In all of those exchanges, your lawyer has watched your mannerisms, noted your frustrations, and observed subtleties in your gestures, voice, and tone. Your lawyer gets to know you, and understands the full context of your words.

There is probably nothing more frustrating than working with a family law attorney, developing a solid relationship of trust with good communication, and then have your case reassigned to a different attorney at the law firm. When reassigned to a junior lawyer, you may reasonably question the importance of your case to the law firm. You may feel that your divorce or child custody matter is not valuable enough to merit keeping a more experienced attorney on the case. Such concerns can only undermine your trust in the lawyer and the firm.

Choose your attorney carefully and, before you hire, take a good look at the attorney’s legal team.

You’ve taken the time to interview the family law attorney in person. You think hiring that attorney is in your best interests and will carry you from the beginning of your case to a favorable resolution. One last thing, though. Before you decide to hire, take a look at the qualifications of the entire legal team at the law firm, from partners, to associates, to paralegals. A favorable outcome in your case may depend upon it.

Why Experience Matters With Family Law Issues

Family law is a highly emotional legal specialty, as the issues that lawyers of this nature deal with are closely tied to the people and values that matter most to clients.

Often, one’s first experience with this area of the law is a result of a difficult or traumatic experience such as child custody hearing, child protective services hearings, or divorce proceedings. These situations involve intense emotions as the relationship between former spouses and/or parents and their children, making an already challenging area of the law even more difficult to navigate. Emotionally charged proceedings create a stressful work environment, which is one reason why many attorneys choose not to practice family law.

However, it is very important as a client choosing a lawyer for this type of situation to make sure that you choose one who has experience and knowledge in this area so that you can be sure that your interests and the best interests of those involved are pursued.

Special issues with children

For example, family lawyers deal with issues of protecting children. The government can choose to place minor in foster care temporarily or to put the children up for adoption and permanently revoke the rights of parents if they feel that the child is in danger. They also work with judges and the courts to determine the emotional costs of divorce on children in an attempt to minimize damage to the children as these proceedings are conducted. These decisions can be painful and difficult for all parties, which is why it is particularly advantageous to have an experienced and skillful attorney on your team.

Regarding these difficult and complex issues, the law can often be vague and unclear, leaving a great deal of room for interpretation and confusion. For this reason, courts across the United States and in Louisiana often allow for family lawyers to use the option of “collaborative family law” as a way to resolve these issues without formal, traditional proceedings. Through cooperation, the parties involved can attempt to resolve their conflicts without the costs, time, and distress involved with conventional courtroom resolution.

In some cases, this works out very well for both parents and children. However, this is not universally the case, and if collaboration fails to settle the problems out of court, clients need to be prepared to take the issue to trial. A lawyer who has worked in family law for many years has participated in both collaborative settlements as well as formal trials and will be able to guide you through this trying process.

The issues covered by family law are very broad, ranging from simple divorces to end short marriages that involve no children to domestic violence and even paternity suits. Deciding what is best for clients can involve any number of specialists and governmental agencies.

If this sounds overwhelming, it is because resolving family law issues can be incredibly difficult and complex. However, lawyers who have chosen this as their practice are able to explain one’s options and help them choose the best path for a resolution that serves the best interests of all parties.

Family Law Courts Are The Perfect Option For Solving Family Disputes

There are several cases in the court of justice and the varieties in them ranges a lot. So, there are certain classifications in the courts present in any judicial system of the country. Some of them like civil, criminal, consumer, taxation and many more are categorised according to the types of cases that come in the court’s way. The specialization for the lawyers is even categorised. But, there are consultants and firms who help in all your legal problems and that mean, one place solution for all your problems. Suppose you have a family legal problem then how would you get family law lawyers and trust on his/her expertise if found one? It seems a hard task to talk about.

The family law courts deal with the cases related to family issues. Family issues are many and the list is quite big to lay out with a complete explanation. Some of them are, adoption, prenuptial agreements, marriage, divorce, separation, legal separation, property division after the death of the parents, division of property on the breakage of marriage, domestic violence (western countries are very strict on these issues, even a mother can be arrested for beating her child), child labour, abuse on marriage to the lady, parental rights, juvenile and many other issues which make sense for having a justice.

The family law courts are criticized a lot about not giving a proper justice and forwarding the case to those higher courts which demands more money and more family law lawyers. So, in a sense they are considered of no use but this is a complete false notion. Instead of the family court the losing party calls for the higher court’s justice. There are also some other issues that has been under the family courts like, the cases relating to, criminal laws inside family, property related laws, probation laws and so on.

The family courts are the most crowded places in almost every country. They deal mostly cases relating to social and economic issues and these are numbered more than any other cases. These courts include less complex cases. The clients who enter into lodging a complaint may be new in these terms and the process might be intimidating for certain people. But, it is perfectly fine about all these because here you abide by the government’s support as they ensure you justice.

One important thing is not to trust anybody out here in this field and hence you must thoroughly understand the terms of the laws. It might be a difficult task for you but the terms relating to your particular case are very important to understand. So, you can readily go for those and make sure nobody cheats you.

What Does a Family Law Solicitor Do?

If you’re having problems with your relationship, or want to know the legal implications of cohabiting, or whether you’d be better off legally if you were to get married, then you’ll need the advice of a family law solicitor.

Here’s what a family law solicitor could do for you.

1. If you want legal advice about getting divorced, then you’ll need to speak to a family law solicitor. You’ll have plenty of questions to ask, and will want to know what the next step is, and how to go about it properly.

2. If your relationship ends then you might want to know where you stand if you’re both paying the mortgage or rent, or have other joint payments or interests. You’ll want to know what your rights are even though you’re not married.

3. You might want to know more about the financial implications of getting married or divorced. Perhaps you’ll want to know whether you’ll need to give halve your earnings to your ex spouse, or how long you’ll need to pay maintenance for.

4. You might be anxious about having to sell your home or other valuable possessions after a divorce or at the end of a relationship. Your family law solicitor will be able to give you the information you need so that you can act accordingly.

5. There might be children involved, and so as a parent you’ll want to know whether your children will live with you, or your ex. You might have to ensure that your children have a suitable home to live in, and want to see them on a regular basis.

6. Depending on your circumstances, you might be considering a pre nup agreement. You’ll want to know whether it’s legally binding in the UK, or if there are other ways of ensuring that you don’t lose out in the event that your marriage doesn’t work out.

7. As a grandparent you also have rights, and so you’ll want to make sure that you’re not stopped from seeing your grandchildren in the event that their parents split up.

8. If you don’t want to get married, then you might want to know the legal implications and responsibilities of cohabiting.

9. if you’re considering a civil partnership, then you’ll want to make sure that you understand what’s involved, and what your rights are.

10. If you’re experiencing domestic violence, then you’ll want to get help as soon as you can. A family law solicitor can usually help you to arrange safe accommodation, and provide all the information and advice you need to leave a violent partner.

Now you know what sort of services are offered, do you need to speak to a family law solicitor?

What is Family Law?

The Wikipedia defines “family law as an area of the law that deals with family-related issues and domestic relations including, but not limited to: the nature of marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnerships; issues arising during marriage, including spousal abuse, legitimacy, adoption, surrogacy, child abuse, and child abduction; the termination of the relationship and ancillary matters including divorce, annulment, property settlements, alimony, and parental responsibility orders “.

While broadly family law encompasses every aspect of a family as seen as a ‘unit of people living together for many reasons’, there are many finer aspects relating to ‘family’ in many different contexts in different parts of the world.

Family denotes a group of people affiliated by a consanguinity, affinity or co-residence.

Consanguinity – ‘con’ means together and ‘sanguine’ means blood; so it simply refers to people descended from a common ancestor. It is an important legal aspect to determine if two people can marry or to determine who inherits property left by a person who has not made a Will.

Affinity in the family sense means attraction of feeling or kinship or relation by marriage.

Co-residence refers to individuals or a group of people living in the same residence and carrying out responsibilities of a family or a household. This may include a parent and child or children and other members sharing blood ties or living together for other reasons.

Family law therefore cannot be confined within social, economic or governmental regulations. There are simply far too many aspects and complexities involving human relations that laws in many countries have diverse legalities referring to each country’s intrinsic social and familial guidelines.

Stark and startling contrasts govern legislation in certain parts of the world. In some societies, patriarchal laws govern while in some others matriarchal. In many parts of Europe, before the advent of the legal system as we see it today, the Church was seen as the law enforcer.

Historically, family law has been based on European feudalism. In the 1970s, family law underwent rapid changes and became redefined, as it had become a part of the wider national debate regarding family values, gender bias, and morality. Particular areas of family law relating to divorce, child custody, family property etc. experienced many changes. Such rapid changes enabling quick fix solutions in marriage, divorce, alimony, child custody and child support drew widespread criticism from many quarters that viewed rising cases of marital discord and disharmony all over the world as a dangerous trend.

Family law is an increasingly important area of legal studies, with many law schools offering numerous elective courses on the subject and the bar exam testing knowledge of this area of law. Furthermore, family law is evolving as the national debate surrounding family continues. One notable change is how family law has been broadened to encompass couples who do not choose to marry.

Today’s family unit has evolved over the generations and may be a concise or shortened version of the co-resident families of the past. Relationships too have evolved and newer legal aspects to family law are being formulated to cope with the complexities of modern life and emerging trends.