A family law attorney is a type of attorney who is trained to practice in a particular area of law that applies to legal issues that arise in connection with domestic relationships. Thus, family law attorneys may handle cases that involve: child custody, alimony and child support payments, marriage, divorce, adoptions, child protective orders, surrogacy, paternity, and many other parental or family-related matters.
Given the broad range of legal issues that form the basis of family law cases, family law attorneys will typically specialize in only two or three of these areas, as opposed to all of them. This enables them to become experts in a special subject that falls under the larger category of family law.
For example, a family law attorney who focuses on divorce law is also more likely to handle other marital arrangements, such as separation agreements and prenuptial or postnuptial agreements. On the other hand, a family law attorney who primarily deals with child custody cases will also probably oversee matters that have to do with visitation rights and potentially child support payments.
In addition, since family law covers a wide spectrum of legal issues, most family law attorneys are well-versed in drafting contracts related to family law matters, providing representation in family law court, and preparing various legal documents that pertain to family law matters.
Therefore, if you have an issue that involves your spouse, your child, and/or your parental rights, then you should contact a local family lawyer for further guidance on the matter as soon as possible.
How Can I Find a Family Lawyer Near Me?
To find a local family lawyer, an individual can reach out to either their state or local bar association, or can use a private attorney referral service to receive recommendations. Regardless of which option is chosen, any of these services will be able to provide the names and contact information for family lawyers who practice in the area.
The individual can then use the information provided by the above services to schedule an initial consultation with the lawyers who were recommended before officially deciding to hire one of them.
Alternatively, a person can use LegalMatch’s services to help them find a local family lawyer. LegalMatch has special software that can quickly connect a user to an attorney who not only practices in their area, but also within the type of law required to handle their case.
The difference between LegalMatch and the other services mentioned earlier in this section is that individuals who use LegalMatch to find a lawyer will not need to initiate contact first. Instead, LegalMatch sends an email that contains information that the user supplies about their case and only lawyers who are ready and able to take their case will respond. The lawyers in LegalMatch’s database can reach out to an individual directly.
From that point forward, the user is then free to decide whether they want to retain that lawyer’s services by setting-up an initial consultation with them and reading reviews or background information about a particular lawyer on LegalMatch’s website.
Additionally, a match does not mean that a user will automatically be obligated to hire that lawyer. A user will also not be charged a fee for requesting a recommendation for a new or different lawyer.
How Can I Get the Most Out of a Family Lawyer’s Help?
To get the most out of a family lawyer’s help, an individual should have a list of questions prepared prior to meeting with a prospective family lawyer. Some types of questions or topics that a person should discuss before they hire a family lawyer include the following:
- Rates and other fees: This is an extremely important subject to discuss before hiring a family lawyer. Specifically, ask them how they bill their clients (e.g., flat fees, hourly rates, etc.) and whether there are any additional costs that clients are required to pay for in addition to attorneys’ fees. For example, court filing fees, expert witness costs, expenses for other attorneys or paralegals working on the case, etc.
- Duration of the issue: How long a case lasts directly ties into the topic of rates and costs. For instance, if a family lawyer bills by the hour, then a person should know before hiring the lawyer that a longer case will require them to set aside a lot more funds than one that only takes a day to resolve.
- Experience with similar matters: Although it may be possible to get this information by reading a family lawyer’s firm bio or researching the lawyer’s background, a client should know how much experience a lawyer has with their specific issue before hiring them. If they have absolutely no experience, then this may indicate that the client should hire a different attorney; preferably, one who has the right kind of experience.
- Alternative strategies: Since having a court resolve a matter is the most expensive form of legal strategies, an individual should ask their family lawyer whether alternative legal strategies exist. For instance, is it possible to settle certain divorce issues through mediation instead of in front of a judge.
- Potential outcomes: While these may only be predictions based on past experience and similar cases, a person should be sure to inquire about the potential outcomes for their matter. This question can assist in identifying which cases may not be worth taking to court and/or whether it is even necessary to hire an attorney at all.
- Other documents or information: Finally, a client should ask their lawyer whether there is any other information or documents they should provide them with because it can help a lawyer to do their job to the best of their ability and it may supply ample support for a case.
Some other tips that may aid an individual in getting the most out of a family lawyer’s services include:
- Be honest: One of the main factors that could potentially cause a client to lose or receive an unfavorable outcome in a case is not being honest with their lawyer. Clients who lie about events, omit facts, or withhold information about their situation from their attorney are less likely to obtain favorable results.
- By being up front with a lawyer initially, it reduces the chances that the information will hurt them at a future stage in the case, prevents the other party from using those details against them, and gives their own lawyer the opportunity to find a way to protect them from damaging material.
- Keep a record: Be sure to keep organized records of all documents and information related to a matter. This may include court submissions, phone calls, text messages, e-mails, and any other documents or evidence that pertain to the issue. This will help to establish a timeline and may also be extremely useful in the event that any of those materials are needed to prove some portion of the case.
- Stay Calm: Staying calm and level-headed is easier said than done; especially, when a matter involves a family-related issue. Try not to make impulsive decisions or behave in any manner that could disrupt an aspect of the case. Above all, make sure to listen to the lawyer who is handling the case.
- For instance, if a lawyer says to refrain from arguing with a soon-to-be ex-spouse, try to heed their words if possible since this sort of advice is given with a client’s best interests in mind.
Should I Hire a Lawyer if I Need Help with Family Law Issues?
Family law issues tend to be delicate matters. The way in which a particular dispute is resolved has the ability to affect the rest of not only your life, but also the other members of your family. Thus, in most instances, it may be in your best interest to contact a local family lawyer for further advice on the best way to go about settling your issue.
An experienced family lawyer will be able to analyze the facts of your situation, can explain how the law and any previously signed agreements may affect the outcome of your case based on their findings, and can discuss the potential options you have to move forward.
Additionally, your lawyer can walk you through any necessary legal procedures, such as gathering evidence or filing certain documents with the court, and will also be able to provide representation during negotiation conferences or at court hearings.