Making the decision to start a divorce or take your child’s other parent to court is never easy. You need to know you have the right person by your side. Choosing the right family law attorney can mean the difference between a prompt resolution that feels right and an extended battle that hurts everyone, including your kids.
A personal referral is often the best place to start when you are looking for a family lawyer. You’re probably not the first of your friends or family to get divorced, need an order for child custody, or to get child support from an ex-partner. Reach out to your network to see who they have worked with in the past. A personal referral helps you understand the personality of the lawyer even before reaching out, rather than relying on the law firm’s marketing materials.
You can also ask for referrals from the other professionals in your life. Your therapist, spiritual leader, real estate agent, or even your banker may have connections to an experienced family law attorney. Because these professionals often work with each other to address family law issues, they may have a good feeling about how the lawyer does his or her work, and whether they handle the type of divorce or custody problems you need solving.
If you do not feel comfortable asking a friend or family member for a personal referral, you can also find thousands of lawyers online. But not all lawyers are equally up to the task of handling your specific case. When searching for a lawyer online, look past the ads or sponsored links at the top of the page to focus on what Google calls the “organic” links. The lawyers in the advertising spots paid to be there. The ones that come up organically are more closely related to the work you need them to do. You should also refine your search by adding:
These additional search terms will help weed out lawyers who may handle some family law, but aren’t focused on the issues you are facing. Once you have a list of good search results, you can start looking for a family law attorney who can help with your case.
Is the attorney experienced at handling a family case like yours? Many attorneys practice family law in addition to other types of law. Your attorney should be familiar with the legal issues in your case and practice frequently in the county where your case will be heard. If they say they haven’t seen something before, or give you generic advice, you may want to look elsewhere.
How does the divorce attorney communicate with clients? And how do you prefer to communicate? If you are the type to let every call go to voicemail, you may want to hire an attorney who uses technology including emails and direct messaging to streamline communications and save time. Communication is also about how well you connect with your family lawyer. When you speak with the lawyer, do you feel as though you are being heard? Do you understand what they are telling you and do they explain themselves clearly?
What is the attorney’s philosophy when it comes to family law cases? Are they in it to win it, or are they compassionate and interested in negotiation and settlement? While most lawyers would agree that the courtroom is not the best place to resolve your family law disputes, it is important that the family lawyer you select is prepared to fight for you in front of the judge when litigation is your only option.
Is the attorney trained in Collaborative law and mediation? When you meet with an attorney to discuss your divorce, child custody, or support case, it is important that you be given the opportunity to explore all of your available options, including Collaborative and mediation. Many attorneys have experience participating in alternative dispute resolution, but they may not have the advanced training to know how to make the most of these settlement options. Ask your lawyer what advanced training they have received, especially if you think Collaborative law may be the right process for you.
An attorney-client relationship is just that: a relationship. You deserve to have attorneys assigned to your case that are focused on supporting you from beginning to end. Sometimes a client’s file can be handed off between lawyers at different phases of the case. That can leave you feeling disconnected from the process and unsure who to lean on for support. It is important to determine that the firm you choose provides personal attention, clear communication, and ensures that any attorney that works on your case is dedicated to the relationship they build with you.
At the Law Office of Shelly M. Ingram, our family law attorneys know how important it is for you to trust your family law attorney. We want you to feel confident you have made the right choice to work with our firm. We will meet with you in person, or virtually, and carefully review all the details of your case. Then we will personally stand with you through whichever family law process you choose, protecting your priorities from beginning to end. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with an attorney.