Hiring a family law attorney is one of the most important steps in your case. There are stronger attorneys who are responsive, have relevant experience, want the best outcome for their clients, and know how to maneuver through the family law system, and then there are weaker attorneys who may be slow to respond, are late with documents and appointments, and care more about their own needs. So how can you tell the difference?
We’ve come up with three questions to ask a divorce attorney at the initial consultation to help you determine whether the lawyer is a good fit for you and your case.
1. What’s your overall experience level with family law matters?
You probably don’t want to be a test case experiment for an attorney who decided last week that they want to dabble in family law. While any attorney is capable of learning the law and practicing in a particular field, you probably want an attorney who has a good amount of family law experience.
This means that they are in the trenches every day- attending court hearings, attending mediations, working with other family law professionals, analyzing financial documents, and drafting agreements. This kind of attorney will be able to draw from past cases on how to best move your case forward and what pitfalls to avoid.
An experienced family law attorney will also be familiar with the potential outcomes for your case and can provide you options based on a cost-benefit analysis of any issue. Finally, experience usually means efficiency, and an experienced attorney can help save you time and money in the long run.
2. How can we achieve my goals?
“Plan the work, and then work the plan.” During an initial consultation, you will want to share your goals for the outcome of your case. The attorney should be able to address whether those goals are reasonable and if they are attainable. If so, a game plan needs to be developed that covers “substance” and “process.”
Substance pertains to what the law is and how it relates to the facts and circumstances of your case. Process pertains to what to do and how to accomplish the goal.
Substance and process mesh together to form the strategy for the case. You should remain flexible with your strategy as new information and other changes will inevitably come up, but it’s important to have an overall plan for your case.
3. What can I do to help my case?
Based on your goals and the facts of your case, you will want to know what you can do to be proactive. Often, this means maintaining the status quo by ensuring household bills and marital expenses are being paid as normal, ensuring the children’s needs are being met by both parents, and being low-key and business-like when communicating with the other party.
However, some cases need to be built up with evidence and documentation. For instance, you may need to start documenting how much time the other parent is spending with the children and how the children are doing in their care. You may need to keep close track of certain expenses and gather relevant financial documents, so you have the proof and receipts you need to prove your case.
Beginning Your Legal Journey
How a lawyer responds to these questions will help you determine if you and the lawyer are a good fit for each other. You and this attorney will likely be working together for at least several months, and you want to have a comfort level with the attorney’s ability to work your case and produce results.
At Robert Sparks Attorneys, we understand initial consultations are an important time for potential clients to explain their cases, get a feel for how we operate, and learn what we can do to help them navigate their legal journeys. If you have a potential divorce or family law matter you wish to discuss, please call or contact us online.