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Think You May Need A Family Law Attorney?

If you think you may need a family law attorney and want to be sure you pick the right one, ask yourself the following questions.

Does your situation require legal help?

Lawyers are notoriously pricey, but you probably need one if you’re considering adopting a child, getting divorced, arranging a prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement, having problems with a restraining order, or trying to become emancipated from your parents.

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Which type lawyer is right for you?

First of all, look local. Consider legal representatives based in the country, state, and county where you will file your case. If you are serving in the military or working abroad, yours might be a special case.

If your situation is fairly simple (for instance, an amicable divorce), most family lawyers will suffice to provide the necessary mediation. However, if your prospective legal representative is in for a tooth-and-nail custody battle, or a muddle of complicated property holdings and financial assets, you’re going to need to identify and pay for the attorney with the right skill set and a lot of experience with those particular cases.

Don’t forget, there are many online and community-based resources available to help non-English speaking and low-income families secure quality legal representation.

Once you have a basic idea about which kind of family attorney you need, how do you narrow your search?

A good place to start is by tapping your own network. Do you have trusted family or friends who have been through a similar divorce, a custody dispute, or an adoption? Did they have positive experiences with their own lawyers? Do you know anyone in the field who could make any recommendations?

The American Bar Association, legal search engines, and various public interest websites are great places to start looking online.

Once you’ve identified some potentials, see if you can find their bios and past cases online to ascertain whether they have the expertise you’re looking for. Have there been news write ups or press releases about their work? Look at their LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter profiles. Ask around to see what others think. Don’t forget to check with your state bar association to make sure that all the attorneys on your list have good reputations. Consider doing a background check.

How do you make the final decision?

Schedule a telephone consultation or, if possible, an in-person consultation, and see if you can get a feel for the lawyer, as well as anyone else working at the firm. Keep in mind that many aspects of your case may be delegated. Is everyone you speak to courteous, knowledgeable, and helpful? Ask how long the attorney has practiced and if he or she has worked on cases similar to yours. Ask for references. Furthermore, find out what your case is likely to cost and about any available payment plans. Make sure you are aware of all potential fees, and ask for a copy of the law office’s retainer agreement. Make sure you understand all of the possible outcomes of your case.

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