What questions should I ask during the initial consultation with a family law lawyer?

Choosing the best family law attorney is an important decision. Whether you’re getting divorced, seeking legal separation, or dealing with other complex family issues, the right attorney can make all the difference. But the search for a qualified professional can feel daunting, with so many attorneys out there. To help you narrow down your options, consider asking these questions during the initial consultation with a potential family lawyer. 

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How Many Family Law Cases Have You Handled?

Family law covers a wide range of topics, from custody to property disputes. Depending on the specific issue, the process can be extremely complicated and emotionally taxing. In addition, family issues often involve sensitive information and personal details. It’s important to select an attorney who has a deep understanding of the legal process and the sensitivity necessary to work with you and your family. 

As you consider your choices, ask prospective attorneys how many family law cases they’ve handled in the past. More experience tends to mean more expertise, but a less-experienced attorney may also be just as qualified. The key is to find an attorney who focuses a significant percentage of their practice on family law issues. 

What Are Your Rates?

An experienced family law attorney should be able to provide you with a fee structure that will allow you to budget for the cost of representation. Be sure to inquire about the attorney’s hourly rates and paralegal rates. Most attorneys will charge a reduced rate for work that they delegate to their paralegals, which can significantly reduce your legal fees. 

In addition to establishing their rates, you should also ask prospective family lawyers how they prefer to communicate with clients. This can affect their availability and how quickly you receive updates on the status of your case. Some attorneys will answer emails and texts, while others prefer phone calls or video conferences. Find out what communication methods are most effective for your situation and select an attorney whose preferences align with yours. 

How Long Will This Take?

It’s essential to understand how much time your case could potentially take. While the attorney can give you an estimate of drafting and court processing times, the full length of your case from start to finish will likely be unpredictable and highly individualized. If you and your spouse are on good terms, your divorce may be resolved in a matter of months; however, if you and your spouse disagree about key matters such as property division or child custody, the process could last over a year. 

As you prepare for your consultation, be sure to bring any and all documentation that is relevant to your family law matter. This includes, but is not limited to: photographs, videos, witness statements, medical records, financial documents, and any other pertinent information that can assist in your case. It’s also a good idea to bring any incriminating evidence that could be used against you or your spouse, such as proof of infidelity or abuse.