How To Find A Great Family Law Attorney

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Going through a divorce or child custody,or child support dispute can be a difficult and overwhelming experience. Whether you are a father, mother, or grandparent, It is important to have the right legal representation to guide you through the process and protect your rights and interests. However, finding the right family law attorney can be a daunting task. Here are some tips on how to find a good family law attorney that will help you through this difficult time.

The Lawyer’s Experience and Expertise:

One of the most important factors for selecting a good family law attorney is their experience and expertise in handling cases involving children and custody. It is important to find a lawyer who has experience, including actual courtroom experience,  handling the specific type of case you have, whether it is a divorce, child custody dispute, or adoption. Additionally, it is important to find a lawyer who is well-versed in the laws of your state, as family law can vary greatly from state to state. If your  case is in the Family Court, you need a lawyer who has experience in the Family Court. If you have a divorce case,  or want an attorney to draft a prenuptial agreement  or a separation agreement, you will need an attorney or law firm that is experienced in handling divorce cases in the Supreme Court Matrimonial parts.  

Unless you have a very simple case, it is usually not a good idea to hire a lawyer who is a general practitioner doing all kinds of legal matters, and only an occasional family law case.  Family lawyers usually concentrate their practice areas  in family law and, over time, get a lot of experience handling all types of cases, including  divorces, child support and child custody, and visitation  cases. They also become familiar with all the judges so that they will know what to expect if your case has to go to trial. 

You may want a family law attorney who also does mediation and collaborative law for your divorce, because it is always cheaper to resolve divorces or other family law matters with a settlement agreement instead of a trial. 

Legal Fees

In general, a lawyer’s fees are a function of his or her years of experience, reputation, education, and how affluent the community is. Do not, however, assume that the best attorneys are the most expensive attorneys, or that attorneys who have the most expensive offices, or are cited or featured in the news and appear on cable TV, are the best attorneys. They might actually be the best marketers, but not very good attorneys. Likewise, there is no point in hiring an expensive attorney when it is likely that you will not be able to afford him or her. While you may be able to afford the initial retainer, Family Law cases often go on for a year or more with many court appearances and legal fees add up very quickly.

It is important to consider the attorney’s fees when it comes to expensive issues such as property division, alimony (also called maintenance and spousal support in NYS), and child support. Look for an attorney who is transparent about their fees. There are a likely a few good lawyers in your area who charge  more reasonable fees than their colleagues or offer a sliding scale depending upon your income.

Communication and Availability

Another important factor to consider is the attorney’s communication style and availability. It is important to find a legal professional who is easy to communicate with and who is responsive to your needs. Look for a family law lawyer  who is willing to provide advice, answer your questions, and provide clear, concise explanations of the legal process. Additionally, consider an attorney who is available to meet with you in person, by video, or over the phone as needed. Before Covid most people who were looking to hire an attorney for a divorce or family law case would look for one who had an office conveniently located near their home or job, but nowadays many consultations can be done over zoom or other platforms. However, since clients are usually responsible for paying for the lawyer’s travel time to and from court, it may be better to hire a lawyer whose office is near the court where the divorce or other family law matter will be heard. 

Some lawyers do not like to travel long distances to court, so you should find out what areas the lawyer covers before proceeding further. 

The Lawyer’s Reputation:

Another important factor is the attorney’s reputation. You can ask friends, family members, or colleagues if they know any good attorneys, as personal references tend to be accurate. You can also check online reviews and ratings of the lawyer for more information about the lawyer. Online reviews can include clients giving you their experiences, good or bad, working with the lawyer.  Do not be put off by a few negative reviews. Family Law is very emotional for clients and even the best family law attorneys cannot please everyone.

 Credentials:

Additionally, you can check the attorney’s credentials. Ask the attorney if they are licensed and in good standing with the state bar association. Check the attorney’s disciplinary history by contacting the state bar association. You can also search AVVO which will tell you if the bar association has ever publicly disciplined the attorney.  Do not put much stock in awards such as “super lawyers” as they are mostly forms of advertising. 

The Lawyer’s Website 

Nowadays, every attorney who is in private practice has a website. Although the website does not have to have the most modern, trendy, or impressive design, if the site loads very slowly, has a very outdated design, and contains any spelling errors, this could indicate that the attorney or law firm is likely not high quality. If the website is written for readers on a 5th grade reading  level  or  reads like an advertisement, it can be an indication that the attorney or firm is primarily interested in capturing your money.

Consultations:

Once you have narrowed down your list of potential attorneys, schedule a consultation with each one. During the consultation, ask the attorney about their experience, qualifications, and communication style. Also, ask the attorney about their approach to your specific case and how they intend to handle the relevant issues. 

 If the case is a contested divorce, the lawyer should ask you a lot of questions, including the history of the marriage, what are the likely marital assets, including real estate, pensions, and investments, and if either spouse has a history of domestic violence, serious mental illness, or a criminal record. The lawyer should also ask you if there is a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement in effect. 

If you are paying for a consultation, you should expect to meet with the lawyer for at least one hour, however for a complicated divorce with many issues such as one or more of the spouses  owns a business,one hour is probably not enough.  

Trust Your Instincts:

Finally, it is important to trust your instincts when choosing a family law attorney. If you feel comfortable with the attorney and confident in their abilities, you have likely found a good match. Remember, your attorney will be a crucial part of your legal team, and it is important to have someone you can trust by your side during this difficult time.

In conclusion, finding a good family law attorney can be a challenging task, but with some research and due diligence, you can find a legal professional who is well-suited to your needs and can provide guidance and support throughout the process.