Considering a separation or divorce can be a devastating time in a person’s life. Determining custody, child and spousal support, division of property or other serious legal issues can make you feel like your life is spiraling out of control.
Because the decision to divorce a spouse is so emotional, choosing the right family law attorney is important for your future, and that of your children. Unfortunately, it is a decision that sometimes needs to be made quickly. You may feel like you are the only person in Louisiana going through these issues; however, I meet with people every day who feel exactly the same way.
Compounding the anxiety is the reality that the decision you are about to make will affect how you live the rest of your life. Choosing the right attorney will help you regain your balance, and allow you to have some perspective on the situation from a legal and practical standpoint. Our clients tell us that when they took a considered approach in choosing their representation, they felt their family was best served in the long term.
Preparing for the Road Ahead
When you meet with a prospective family law attorney, make sure that you bring any documents (bills, pictures, acts of sale) that are relevant to the issues in your case. If you have a question about what you think may be relevant, ask during the first session. Furthermore, have all relevant information ready to impart to your attorney, including dates of birth and dates of marriage.
To help bring structure to the process, we have developed a short guide to help you identify and understand the top 10 factors you should consider when choosing your family and domestic attorney.
Making changes to your family structure is a process that should be done with deliberate and thoughtful consideration. Removing emotion from the process seems impossible, and it is difficult. However, after you have considered our top factors, we are confident you will find the process will go more smoothly. Answering “no” to any of these questions could make this already difficult process more complicated than necessary.
10 Interview Questions You Should Always Ask:
- Has the attorney handled cases that feel like yours?
Family law matters are not just “one size fits all” cases. There are so many nuances and facts related to each client. Ask if they have recently represented clients in a case similar to yours.
- Does the attorney have the necessary resources?
An attorney without the proper support supporting resources (e.g., support staff, modern technology, ready access to other excellent family law attorneys, etc.) can struggle to achieve a positive outcome for their client. Successful attorneys have staff members on hand to manage the moving parts and help guide your case forward.
- Does he actively listen to your questions, and answer in terms you understand?
An attorney who is a good listener processes the information and asks questions of which you may not have thought. Explaining legal concepts in layman’s terms is important to understanding the process. If the attorney does not ask you if you have any questions, then perhaps that attorney is not your best option.
- Does the attorney have 24/7 contact information?
Being able to text or email your attorney at any time of the day or night may be important to you and your case. Please keep in mind that your attorney may not respond in the middle of the night. However, I make it part of my practice to check email and texts when I first wake up.
- Does the attorney explain all of the fees involved in the process?
Before you meet with an attorney, you should know that in addition to attorney’s fees for client meetings, preparation of documents and court appearances; there are significant court expenses that are associated with the process. Be prepared for these expenses, as they are part of the process. In my next blog, I’ll discuss the high costs of divorce.
- Does she seem sincerely interested in helping you?
The process you are undertaking may be long and emotional. If your attorney isn’t interested in helping from the beginning, that isn’t likely to change as you move forward in your case. You should feel like the attorney is sympathetic to your particular matter from day one.
- Can the attorney explain a strategy to resolve your case in the most advantageous fashion?
By providing complete and accurate facts, you assist your attorney in resolving your case. Be honest and do not “sugarcoat” the facts. The attorney will develop a strategy for your matter based on these facts. He should then be able to clearly explain all possible outcomes you can expect and the step-by-step process involved in achieving the most positive result.
- Is the attorney willing, able, and experienced enough to go to court hearings or trial on your behalf?
The hallmark of any good divorce attorney is the ability to attend hearings and develop trial strategy. An attorney should be prepared every time they are stepping foot into a court house, which preparation comes from your providing accurate information.
- Does he have a clear timeline and scheduling process to keep your case moving towards resolution?
In selecting an attorney, ask what they can expect for a timeline. It varies from court to court, and sometimes from particular division. St. Tammany and Washington Parishes may not move as quickly in Orleans, Jefferson or Tangipahoa parishes. Be prepared to hear “it depends,” but expect a good attorney to be able to explain the factors that can and will change the timeline.
- Do you have a feeling that you can work well with the attorney?
“Clicking” with your family law attorney is so important. Feeling at-ease with your representation is important. Trusting them is critical. Difficult decisions will have to be made in order to move your life forward. You should only take this type of guidance from a trusted advisor.?
How does YOUR attorney measure up?
After choosing the right attorney for your specific needs, you should clearly understand the plan of action for your case and how it was achieved. The right attorney will help you make a rational, well-informed decision, will fiercely defend your rights, and aggressively pursue the reasonable path you’ve outlined together.
With 15 years of experience, I am confident that in one meeting, I will be able to answer all these questions in the affirmative. I know that I will be able to guide you through this difficult period in your life.
To learn more about how Seale & Ross’ Family Law Practice may be able to help resolve your matter, contact me at GThomas@sealeross.com, or call (985) 792-4000. My assistant will schedule an appointment at my office in either Madisonville or Hammond. I represent Family Law clients in St. Tammany Parish, Tangipahoa Parish, Washington Parish, Jefferson Parish and Orleans Parish.