When to Hire a Family Law Attorney
Divorce is an unpleasant reality for many families. Marriage doesn’t always work out in the long term, often for reasons that are out of your control. Because society as a whole understands the circumstances that precipitate divorce, gone is the stigma that existed in previous generations.
However, this doesn’t mean that getting divorced is easy. Even when both parties agree to the split, even when the divorce is amicable, it is very difficult to untangle two lives that have grown together over many years. Property, spousal support, children, and other complicating factors make many a divorce tricky and disheartening.
That’s why hiring a good family law attorney is important. In a time in your life when you are least able to make life-changing decisions, and when you are most out of your depth when it comes to the complex legal matters of divorce, a trusted attorney may be your single greatest asset.
Some couples try to work out their differences between themselves without involving attorneys, but this almost always backfires. It’s important to realize that divorce is bigger than the interests of either partner, or any individual child.
If you’ve never been through a divorce yourself, or have not observed this event in the lives of those close to you, here are some of the vital ways that family law guides the outcomes of divorce. There is more at stake than you might realize.
What to Look for when Hiring a Family Law Attorney
When looking for a San Antonio family law attorney, you will certainly find that there is no shortage of options available. However, what you want is the best lawyer for you. There are certain qualities that a strong family law attorney is going to have that sets them apart from the rest.
Look for these qualities when making your decision:
- He or she has vast experience dealing with cases similar to yours;
- They genuinely listen to your needs and concerns and provide solutions based on those needs;
- The attorney make you feel comfortable and help put your mind at ease;
- He or she has a plan for your case and keeps you informed every step of the way.
If the family law attorney that you speak with has all of these traits, then they may be the right lawyer for you.
5 Questions to Ask a Family Law Attorney You’re Considering Hiring
To help you better determine whether the lawyer you are speaking with has the previously mentioned qualities, ask them the 5 following questions:
- How long have you been practicing family law?
- Have you dealt with cases like mine before, and how so?
- Are you the attorney who will be handling my case?
- What sort of payment options do you offer?
- What expertise do you bring to my case versus another attorney?
In addition to these questions it’s also a good idea to write down any other questions you may have when having an initial consultation. You want to make sure that you feel comfortable with the family law attorney handling your case, so it’s best to get answers to all of your questions up front prior to making a decision.
Choosing legal representation doesn’t need to be difficult, but you do want make sure that your lawyer has your best interests in mind above all.
Benefits of Hiring a Family Law Attorney Who is Also a CPA
Many individuals going through a divorce
choose to hire an attorney to represent them. However, choosing the right attorney can be a difficult
and very selective process. Hiring a family law attorney who is also a Certified Public Accountant (“CPA”)
can give you the extra boost of confidence to know that you are being
represented by someone with the proven ability to handle the complex financial
aspects of your divorce.
A CPA is the title for someone who has been licensed by the state as a certified public accountant. In order to become licensed, the individual must pass the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination, meet high educational standards and complete the state certification requirements for a specified amount of general accounting experience.
CPAs are known for being extremely savvy with numbers, highly analytical, detail oriented and having excellent math and communication skills. These attributes are highly advantageous for a family law attorney to have because divorces are typically full of number-crunching issues that require a high level of analysis and detail-oriented focus such as dividing significant assets and debts, property tracings, business valuations, and support calculations to name just a few.
The extra skill set that an attorney who is also a CPA has is highly advantageous to any client going through a divorce. For example, the attorney is likely to successfully resolve a case in a more timely and cost effective manner, thus saving the client attorney fees. An attorney who is also a CPA can analyze the various number-related issues that are prevalent in divorce cases at a much quicker rate than most other family law attorneys. For example, an in-depth analysis of your tax returns will be done faster than most other attorneys because CPA are more familiar with tax forms and have a knack for dealing with numbers.
Why Hiring a Family Law Lawyer
Some parties believe that they can adequately represent their own interests; however, they soon learn that this is a mistake. Some of the reasons why hiring a family law lawyer is preferable to pro se include:
From the very beginning of a court case, complicated procedures are initiated. If a party wants to move the court to do something, he or she must submit a complaint or similar document. This complaint must be formatted in a specific way or it may not be accepted by the clerk’s office. Additionally, the complaint should be detailed enough to explain what the party is asking for and wants the court to order. If certain requests are not made, the court will not grant them on its own. There are also complex rules regarding how the other party must receive notice of these documents. If these rules are not strictly followed, the complaint can be thrown out and the entire process must be initiated again.
Understanding of the Law
A lawyer usually has a better understanding of the law when compared to a lay person without a legal background. Lawyers spend years in law school and in practice. Lawyers who focus primarily on family law usually have a better understanding of the state and local laws regarding custody, guardianship and other family law matters. He or she can use this understanding to try to convince the judge to rule in a certain way.
Understanding of the Other Characters
Additionally, lawyers that practice in a certain area tend to have established relationships with other legal professionals, including lawyers, judges, paralegals and secretaries. Pro se litigants are often unknown. They may not know what to expect of a judge or how he or she perceives a particular issue. Other lawyers may not be as willing to work with a pro se party than they would with someone with whom they are already familiar. Additionally, the child may have a lawyer that is looking out for the child’s interest, usually called a guardian ad litem. Having a working relationship with these professionals can also be important in cases concerning children.
During proceedings in a family law matter, it may be necessary to submit evidence regarding the child. This may include evidence related to the child’s grades in school, performance, therapy, social functions, medical history or other matters. There may also need to be evidence related to the child’s parents that is submitted, such as communication between the parents, information related to the parent’s criminal background, information related to domestic violence or other important matters. Presenting this type of information is not a simple process. It requires a clear understanding of the rules of evidence and how they apply. Complicated issues regarding medical privacy rights, hearsay, hearsay exceptions and other matters may arise that can block the admission of such evidence.
Many individuals who decide to represent themselves pro se do so because they do not want to spend the money on a lawyer. However, not hiring a lawyer can cause costly mistakes that exceed the initial expense of hiring a lawyer. Additionally, a case may be permanently and adversely affected by the actions of a party who is not represented by competent legal counsel.
When You Should Hire Child Custody Lawyers
To help you make a wise decision, here’s a look at the three most important factors you must consider before you decide to hire a child custody attorney to take your case.
Before You Hire Child Custody Lawyers
- Consider Your Financial Resources: When deciding whether to hire a child custody lawyer, the most important consideration is the availability of financial resources. The retainer for a child custody lawyer can be quite expensive, depending on a number of factors including how many hours it may take to resolve the case, as well as the state in which you live. When considering whether to hire child custody lawyers, ask about the anticipated costs upfront. If you reach the conclusion that you are unable to afford a private attorney, remember that you still have options. You may be entitled to free legal aid or low-cost representation through the family court. In some jurisdictions, the court may base your entitlement to free representation on your current income.
- Weigh the Complexity of Your Case: Typically, parents are advised to hire child custody lawyers when facing a difficult or complex child custody issue. For example, interstate child custody cases are usually considered complex. If you are facing a difficult custody case and you feel unsure about representing yourself, you should consider hiring a child custody lawyer who specializes in complex legal issues and has experience in family court. If you decide to represent yourself during your child custody hearing, being well prepared will give you the best chance of winning child custody. If you’re not sure where to begin, start by reading up on the child custody laws in your state.
- Consider the Attorney’s Reputation: Many parents decide to hire a child custody lawyer based on the attorney’s reputation for winning child custody cases. Look to hire a child custody attorney with experience handling similar cases. And don’t be shy about asking for references! This is likely the most important case you’ll ever face in your life, and you have every right to investigate the attorney’s reputation before signing on the bottom line. If you are eligible for low-cost or free representation, be extra picky about the attorney’s reputation for winning child custody, especially contested cases that require representation in court. be sure to ask any prospective child custody lawyer about his or her strategy for winning a child custody cases, too. (This is not rude—it’s what it takes to win.)