What should you do when you get into a position where you need to hire an attorney for your family law case? You want to hire a lawyer, but what should you do to get into a position where you can hire a good one that will help you achieve whatever goals you have for your case? Is the method I brought up yesterday- driving down the street and hiring the first lawyer who has a sign out a good one? Probably not. I can offer you some advice on how to look for an attorney.
Finding the name of a reasonable family law attorney
Nowadays, we are not limited to word of mouth and signs in business parks and office buildings. We have the internet, social media, and a boatload of other sources for you to choose from when it comes to hiring an attorney. How do you choose from all of them when it comes to finding an attorney you would want to work with?
I mentioned word of mouth in the prior paragraph, and I believe this is the best place to start. If you have friends or family who has had to go through family law cases, I suggest you contact these folks to see who they recommend. Maybe they did not have a great experience with their attorney, but the opposing attorney impressed them. That is a recommendation that you will want to inquire into.
An old saying is that people with experiences are not at the mercy of people with opinions. It is those people, the ones with life experiences, that you will want to look to during this time for guidance and help in finding an attorney. Many people (really, most people) have an opinion about the law and lawyers in general. That is all good and well, but it makes for a lousy resource when it comes to having to hire an attorney for your case. Look to those who have been in your shoes before. Hiring an attorney is not just about finding the most inexpensive one and going with them. This is a family law case. The people and things closest to you are going to be involved in your case, and you want a trust level that is very high with the person you ultimately select to represent you and your interests.
Go with people whose job it is to help you.
Doctors, religious leaders, or business people are also interested in helping you lead your best life. While these folks are not in a position to represent you in your divorce, they are in a position to know you well and to be able to advise on selecting a reasonable attorney. The other nice thing about people like this is that they likely stand to benefit in no way based on their having recommended a family law attorney to you. As a result, you can feel like their advice is free from any self-interest on their part.
Ultimately these folks are probably among the savvier when it comes to learning how to judge an attorney. If they don’t trust someone, you ought to consider their opinion.
What to do and how to proceed when you cannot afford to hire an attorney
Before you hyperventilate about not being able to hire an attorney, take a deep breath and consider your options. First of all, do not assume that you cannot afford to hire an attorney just because you do (insert job here) for a living. There are plenty of people that can hire attorneys and do exactly what you do. Don’t use your assumed inability to pay an attorney as an excuse to mope around.
First of all, you need to get out there and interview an attorney or three and learn all about them. Try and schedule as many sit-down interviews as you can with attorneys to learn about their methods, legal philosophies, experience, and expected fees. These are some of the most relevant factors you need to find out for yourself.
Legal Aid as an option
If you do not earn very much income, you may be able to qualify for a free attorney through a local legal aid service. You can search on the internet for the various legal aid services available in Houston and Harris County. Whether you qualify or not, legal aid charities match people up with attorneys at little to no cost.
Have your spouse pay for the attorney
Suppose that your attorney controls the family bank accounts. You do not work and stay home full time with your children. You are entirely dependent on your spouse for income, food, shelter, and clothing in this regard. It is not the situation you want to be in long-term, but for the immediacy of your case, you can seek to have your attorney pay your attorney’s fees by filing a motion for a temporary orders hearing. You can have an order signed at the hearing that requires your spouse to pay for legal representation.
After your mediation case, you can again negotiate with your spouse to have them pay your remaining attorney fees. Many people secure judgments whereby their spouse will have to issue payments to them regularly for years to come due to having negotiated this as a parent of their settlement.
Time is money- how long will your case take?
One of the most frequently asked questions that I receive from potential clients of the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, is how long I expect a person’s case to last. This is a difficult question to answer because there are so many factors at play when determining how long a case can last.
Many people want to know the answer to this question right after I tell them that our clients pay a monthly payment to our office for as long as their case is active. While a down payment/retainer is a one-time payment, a monthly payment can stretch out to be more than the down payment in many situations. As such, you will want to know how long your case is expected to last so that you can properly budget.
The minimum time to take in Texas is two months or sixty days. The rationale behind this is that the State of Texas wants to allow you and your spouse an opportunity to reconcile before getting a divorce. The sixty days are when the legislature settled on, forcing spouses to wait to get a divorce.
From my experience, most divorces last between five to seven months on average; however, there are so many factors that go into determining how long your case could last. It is almost not worth it to rely on a number that an attorney gives you.
Questions about finding, hiring, and paying a family law attorney? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC
Thank you for your interest in this and yesterday’s blog posts on finding, hiring, and paying a family law attorney. If you have any questions about this subject matter that we could not cover, I recommend that you contact the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. We offer free of charge consultations six days a week with one of our licensed family law attorneys. It would be an honor to speak to you about how we can best help you and your family achieve your goals.