I can’t tell you how many people come in for their consultation and have no idea what to ask me. This time is your opportunity to find out if I am the best person to represent you for this specific situation in your life. A life changing situation in your life! Take advantage!
When you come in for your consultation, it is best to know what you need to ask the attorney. What are you there for? Is it a divorce case? Is it a paternity case? Has your ex threatened to not bring the kids home after their summer vacation? Think about the situation and formulate your questions to that situation.
Consider your ultimate goal. Do you want advice in general, such as what is the divorce process in Florida, or do you need a specific task completed, such as she has taken the kids to Virginia against the parenting plan and I need some sort of motion to get them back right now.
You should also think about your budget. Nothing is more important than your well-being, your family, and your kids. Going it alone, for me, would not be an option. Even attorneys hire attorneys for family law matters. I can’t tell you how many people have hired me to fix what they tried to do alone, and they have to spend twice as much money than they would spent in the first place. Find out whether the attorney charges hourly or flat fee. Most family attorneys charge hourly, with an up front retainer. If you are able to find out this information over the phone prior to a consultation, do so. Some firms require much higher retainers, upwards of $5,000.00 or more. If you know ahead of time the retainer and that you are not able to make that sort of up front payment, there is no sense in making a consultation at that firm.
You should also ask questions about frequency of contact and updates on your case. Family matters are legal matters to attorneys; however, they are emotional, life-changing matters to clients. You need to ask if there are policies regarding client contact, if there is a set number of appointments you may have per month, when client phone calls will be returned, preference of calls to emails, how frequently you will be updated on your case, and how often you may speak with the attorney versus an assistant. These types of issues could determine whether or not you wish to hire that attorney or firm.
Find out about the approach of your attorney or firm. Some attorneys have an all out hostile, let’s go to war approach for every situation. There are no agreements, they don’t mediate, and all legal issues end up in litigation. This method can also get very expensive. I am not criticizing this approach. For some people, who are very hurt and cannot get past that hurt, this is what they need. On the other hand some attorneys will not litigate and have a more gentle approach. They will tell you up front that they practice alternative dispute resolution and mediation only. If you cannot come to a resolution, you will need to find another attorney. Most attorneys are somewhere in the middle. These are important considerations and questions that you should ask before hiring an attorney. I have seen cases that could have been settled, but for the attorneys!
After you have told the attorney the specifics of your situation, ask the attorney what problems he or she sees in your case. An honest attorney will want you to know any potential setbacks and what he or she as your attorney can do to help.
Now that you are prepared for your consultation, beware of any family law attorney that makes promises of outcomes. The only thing an attorney can promise is that they will work hard for you and do their best. They may tell you something is likely or not likely, but they cannot guarantee an outcome from a judge should your case go to trial. The only outcome that is guaranteed is if you and the other party come to an agreement.
If you are in need of a family law attorney, contact Heather Bryan Law online, or call us today at 863-825-5309 for your consultation. We are happy to help!