The following are guidelines to consider when selecting a family law attorney who is the right fit for your needs:
There is no guarantee that an experienced attorney will fit your needs better than one who has been practicing for a shorter time, but it is reasonable to start with the idea that a more experienced lawyer will have superior better knowledge of other lawyers in the area, and a better idea of what might happen if you take your case before a specific Judge in your community. Experience in handling divorces is important (would you want a kidney specialist to treat your foot problem?). Family law is complex and specialized.
People who are getting divorced or seeking modification of Divorce Decrees often feel vulnerable and lost. Your family lawyer’s personality should reassure you while not giving you unrealistic expectations about the outcome of your case. The right lawyer for you will listen to how you feel your case should proceed, then build on that information using his or her expertise, skill, and experience.
Think about how a lawyer makes you feel when you are in his or her office. Does it seem like people in the office are interested in your well being? Are they courteous and respectful?
It is essential that an attorney and client have a clear understanding about how the client will be charged, and how the attorney’s fees will be paid. Family law attorneys in Texas will bill the client at an agreed hourly rate, which will differ based on specific communities and the experience and skill of the attorney. Family law attorneys will also require a retainer in order to begin work on your case.
Attorneys usually have written fee agreements or employments contracts. Read these documents carefully. If you have a limited amount of money available to pay for your legal action, tell the lawyer this information at the beginning of the relationship. If the lawyer does not believe he or she can complete the case for that amount of money, it is probably best to look elsewhere for an attorney or re-assess your plans or finances. You don’t want to get into the middle of a divorce or other family law matter, then have insufficient funds to pay your lawyer or another lawyer to complete the process.
Ask an attorney you are interviewing how he or she will help you find ways to keep the costs of the divorce down. Make sure they know what your financial parameters are, and what expectations you have regarding costs.
It is helpful to ask for referrals from friends who have been through divorces, but remember that the facts of their cases, their personalities, the sizes of their estates, and the needs of their children are and were different from yours. Just because an attorney was a good fit for your neighbor doesn’t necessarily mean that the same lawyer will be right for you. Ask friends and acquaintances what they liked and did not like about their lawyers. Also ask about their spouses’ lawyers. What did that attorney do to help calm the waters or make matters worse? Use their answers along with other information you gather to decide which lawyer will best meet your needs.
Choosing the right attorney for your family law issue can be the factor that decides how easy or difficult your entire process will be. The decision is too important to make lightly. Do not hesitate to interview more than one attorney so you can get a feel about what alternatives are available. At the end of the interview process, you have to assess your overall comfort level with an attorney before you decide if he or she is right for you given your circumstances at the time you begin the legal process.