Three Questions to Ask When Choosing Your Family Law Attorney
By Orlando Family Law Attorney Eduardo J. Mejias
Practicing Exclusively Family Law Since 2011
Three Questions You Should Ask Regardless of Family Law Case
Florida family lawyers undoubtedly face unique challenges. In addition to providing legal advice, we are often called upon to act as therapists, sounding boards and financial advisers. And we represent clients in a variety of types of family law cases, such as divorce, paternity, adoptions, DCF Dependency, prenuptial agreements, etc. However, regardless of what type of case you hire your family law attorney for, you should ask the following three questions:
(1) What Is the Family Lawyer's Level of Experience?
Family law has both breadth and depth. For example, a divorce may require a family lawyer to analyze recent case law about time-sharing of child custody, draft a memorandum of law about the proper date of the valuation of a marital asset and make compelling arguments about how much income a college graduate with a particular degree can earn. Each of these issues, by themselves, have generated dozens, if not hundreds, of appellate opinions that delineate the applicable rule of law.
Would you trust a “jack of all trades” lawyer (e.g., “your lawyer for life”) to appreciate all of the nuances and complexity of family law? Would you rely on your family doctor to perform brain surgery on you? Of course not.
For these reasons, if you have a family law issue, you should ask these questions of the family lawyers you are considering regarding their experience:
(a) How much of their practice is devoted to family law?
(b) How many family court trials have they litigated?
(c) What percent of their divorces or paternity cases settled at the mediation stage?
(d) How many of the local family law judges have they appeared in front of?
(2) What Is the Plan of Legal Action?
Even though few certainties exist in family law, a skilled family law attorney should inform you at the conclusion of the initial consultation what the plan of legal actions will be. This should include an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of your case, an achievable goal, and the steps that will be taken to obtain this goal.
You should walk out of that consultation with the peace of mind of knowing the path that lies ahead. This may seem like common sense, but too many family law attorneys leave their clients guessing about the directions of their cases. Therefore, it is up to you to ask for this plan if the family lawyer that you are considering does not provide it.
(3) What Is A Realistic Range of Outcomes Of Your Case?
The family law attorney that you consult with should give you a realistic range of outcomes of your case. Beware of the lawyer that guarantees final results. Not even experienced attorneys can predict with certainty how a family law judge will rule at a trial.
A former boss of mine once instructed me to just tell potential clients “what they want to hear.” His cynical approach alienated me, and ultimately, many of his clients. You should expect honest advice from your family law attorney, not false words of encouragement. Many of my clients were misled by their former attorneys who made unrealistic promises to them. These broken promises resulted in clients wasting thousands of dollars in attorney retainer fees.
Therefore, ask for a realistic range of outcomes from the family lawyer that your are consulting, if one is not forthcoming or the outlook looks too rosy.
Call Us For An Initial Consultation
To arrange an initial consultation by phone or at my office to discuss your case, please call (407) 260-6001. At the consultation I will: (a) ask you to explain the family law situation that you find yourself in, (b) present to you with a realistic legal action plan and a range of possible outcomes of your case and (c) quote you a fixed attorney retainer fee, not an hourly rate whose total you cannot predict. For more information on the retainer fees and court costs, including the ranges of these fees for each type of family law case, please click on Family Lawyer Retainer Fees.