When it comes to retaining proper legal representation during a complicated
family matter, it is important to ensure you find the right attorney to
handle your type of case. Because there is a wide range of family law-related
matters, such as divorce, child custody, child support, spousal support,
parenting plan modifications, relocation, and more, it is crucial that
you find a lawyer who has experience handling cases similar to yours.
For this reason, it is wise to ask your potential family lawyer the following
1. “How long have you practiced family law?”
This is one of the most important questions to ask your family lawyer.
You want to be sure that your divorce attorney is equipped with the experience
and knowledge in family law that it takes to streamline your case. A lawyer
who is not very experienced in family law, or who doesn’t focus
their practice on family law, may not understand the intricacies involved
with your case as thoroughly as a seasoned family lawyer may.
2. “How many cases like mine have you handled?”
When asked, many family lawyers will reply with a large number. However,
it is important to ask your family lawyer how many cases they have handled
which are similar to your specific circumstances. Although an attorney
may have handled over 50 divorce cases, they may have only handled two
cases involving complex spousal support matters. You should also ask how
many cases like yours they’ve represented in a trial – especially
if your case may be contentious or if the opposing party in your case
is likely to be adversarial.
3. “Generally, how long does it take for you to respond to phone
calls and emails?”
It is important to be aware of the time it may take between calling or
emailing your attorney and receiving a response. For most people, it is
most convenient to have a lawyer who can respond to their questions or
concerns within a 24-hour period. It is best to understand your attorney’s
policies before your case progresses. Also ask about how they prefer to
communicate with their clients (email or phone, daily or weekly, or as
needed, etc.). A good attorney will provide personalized attention, but
also help you streamline your communications as to reduce your legal costs.
4. “Will anyone else be working on my case? Are they experienced?”
Many family lawyers will have a team when working on complex cases, such
as support associates and paralegals. This can work in your benefit, as
a team approach can save you money and be more responsive to the demands
of your case.
They may also work with outside consultants. For example, your divorce
lawyer may find it necessary hire a personal investigator, a financial
advisor or accountant to assess how assets should be divided, and more.
Again, this can be to your benefit, if these experts are needed. If your
lawyer recommends involving other professionals, be sure to inquire how
experienced the involved professionals are, how much they cost, what they
will provide, and how familiar your lawyer is with their work.
5. “How do you charge clients? Can you provide me with an estimate
for my case?”
During your consultation, ask how the attorney typically charges clients.
Is there an hourly rate? Do they work on a retainer or a flat fee? What
other costs will be involved in your case (court costs, outside consultants,
travel expenses, etc.)? A good family lawyer will be upfront about the
costs involved and how the billing process works.
If you are thinking of hiring a lawyer for a flat-fee arrangement, find
out what services are included in the scope of the agreement, and what
will happen if your legal needs expand outside that scope.
If the attorney charges an hourly rate, you should ask how much cases like
yours typically cost. While most family lawyers can provide you with a
ballpark estimate for your case, a good attorney will also explain the
many factors that could potentially affect the cost of your case, such
as the behavior of the opposing party and opposing counsel, facts of the
case that are uncovered at a later date, and more.
McKinley Irvin is here for you.
If you are facing a family law related matter and would like to retain
experienced legal counsel, we encourage you to
contact our Washington divorce lawyers
at McKinley Irvin right away to schedule a consultation. Our attorneys
practice family law exclusively and have been trusted advisors for thousands
of clients in a wide variety of family law matters.