Divorce is a very painful process, and while spouses are dealing with the emotional impacts of their marriage’s dissolution they often overlook or rush to decide some practical long-term considerations such as property, finances, and ongoing parenting arrangements. Family divorce lawyers can help divorcing spouses handle all of the big decisions they’ll need to make, protecting their interests in court proceedings and settlement negotiations.
Unfortunately, divorce is something many of us will face. While divorce rates have been declining since spiking to almost 50 percent in the 1970s and 80s, more than a third of all marriages still end in divorce. Couples who marry young and couples with money problems face an elevated risk of divorce. College-educated spouses are more likely to stick together for the long haul.
Divorce can have some serious consequences for spouses and their children. Financial problems can be serious and long-lasting. For example, if a couple where the husband was the primary breadwinner and the wife was a stay-at-home parent split, the stay-at-home wife may find difficulty in finding employment after years away from the workforce. Another example would be a father of moderate means getting hit with a hefty monthly child support payment.
These issues are determined in divorce proceedings, but spouses are often too consumed by the emotional fallout from the dissolution of their marriage to give these issues the attention needed. Family divorce lawyers can help guide their clients through one of the most challenging periods of their lives and help them make the right decisions for their future.
Why You Need a Family Law Attorney
When married men and women seek a divorce, it’s important for them to retain an attorney to help with all of the legal paperwork and negotiations involved in a divorce proceeding. They shouldn’t just hire any attorney, however.
Spouses involved in a divorce proceeding need an experienced family law attorney, as these attorneys have the experience and training needed to obtain the best possible result from a divorce. You wouldn’t go to a podiatrist for heart problems, so why would you take a divorce case to an attorney whose primary area of practice is in another segment of law?
Here are a few reasons why choosing a qualified family law attorney is the right decision:
- Objective advice – Even if you’re the party who is initiating the divorce action, chances are that you are experiencing some very deep emotional turmoil concerning the matter. When emotions are running high, it’s easy to make rash decisions that, in hindsight, will prove to be ill-considered. Having a family law attorney in your corner means that you have a professional who can offer objective, fact- and experience-based advice regarding your divorce. A family law attorney can help you avoid going for a quick resolution that leaves you at a long-term financial or parenting disadvantage.
- Access to top-notch consultants – In contentious divorce proceedings, the testimony and advice of professionals such as bankers, investment consultants, appraisers, physicians, and mental health experts may be necessary. Experienced family law attorneys have contacts with many of these experienced professionals and can recruit knowledgeable experts who can lend authority to your case with their knowledge.
- Courtroom experience – There is no substitute for experience when it comes to litigation. Family law attorneys have spent a significant portion of their careers in the courtroom arguing divorce cases. This experience gives them unparalleled insight into what tactics opposing attorneys will pursue and how judges will react to various arguments and evidence. While most divorce cases settle, the most contentious ones end up in a courtroom and, in that circumstance, you want a seasoned professional on your side.
Seasoned family law attorneys are also familiar with all the paper work involved in a divorce, and can handle all of the bureaucracy for their clients, allowing them to focus on moving forward with their lives.
- Familiarity with opposing counsel – Most family law attorneys in your area will interact in court and develop working relationships. Experienced family law attorneys can draw upon those contacts to work effectively with your spouse’s attorney to help negotiate a settlement that is fair and equitable.
- Alternatives to litigation – Family law attorneys can advise their clients on whether alternatives such as divorce mediation may be appropriate for their circumstances. Mediation can save divorcing spouses with good communication the time, expense, and stress of a divorce proceeding. In mediation, a facilitator helps guide divorcing spouses to an amicable agreement. While this option isn’t for everyone, many couples have used it to successfully end marriages without the acrimony involved in divorce.
- Pricing – Family law attorneys understand how tough the divorce process can be, particularly with regard to finances. Family law attorneys may charge more competitive rates than non-family law practitioners and may also be more willing to work with clients regarding payment.
Questions to Ask Prospective Attorneys
Hiring a family law attorney can be a challenge. It’s hard to find a way to objectively gauge the efficacy of an attorney, as most divorces end in a settlement. Asking the right questions when you consult with an attorney can help you find the most qualified professional. These questions may help you in your search:
- Do you specialize in family law? How much of your time is spent on family law cases? Family law attorneys may practice in other areas of the law, but the attorney you hire should focus on family law as his or her primary practice area.
- Will you be personally handling my case? You need to be comfortable with the attorney handling your case, and the attorney you consult with should be the one with whom you go to court. A good relationship with your attorney is critical to ensuring the best possible outcome for your case.
- How do you approach child custody disputes? Child custody is one of the most emotionally charged aspects of a divorce proceeding. You want to hire an attorney who will vigorously advocate for you and your children’s interests, but who also will show compassion and sensitivity to your children.
- How will you update me about my case and how will we communicate? One of the biggest problems clients have with their attorneys is communication. Attorneys are often very busy with multiple cases, and reaching them can be tough for clients. While clients shouldn’t pepper their attorneys with questions every day, they should be able to reach them when they have important questions about big issues in their cases. Establishing a protocol for communications is important in divorce cases.
- How will payment work? You and your attorney need to be very clear on what payment is due and when and how it should be paid. Be sure to inquire about issues such as retainer fee, hourly rates, charges to speak to clerical staff, copying and paperwork fees, and any other fees associated with the case.
- What’s your evaluation of my case? Listen to what your family law attorney says about your case and how he or she thinks that you can be successful in obtaining your desired outcome. How you feel about the attorney’s answer should be your guide in making a selection.
The law offices of Kraft, Miles & Miller, LLP have provided family law services to residents of the Woodland Hills, the San Fernando Valley, and the surrounding cities for more than 25 years. The firm can help clients with divorce, child custody, adoptions, guardianships, estate planning, and other issues related to family law. Set up a free consultation to learn more about how Kraft, Miles & Miller, LLP can help you during one of the most trying times of your life.
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