So much of a family law case means learning about a process that to most people is fairly foreign to them. I think it’s fair to say that most clients at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC have never hired a lawyer before and have never been involved in a legal matter of any kind. I always tell folks that this is a sign of a life that is pretty well lived- to never have had to get caught up in one of these sort of situations.
Unfortunately there comes a time for many people when circumstances get beyond their control and a family law case is something that they have to come face to face with. Whether it is a divorce with no kids, a divorce with kids, or a child custody case you need to be able to hire an experienced, honest attorney who knows the law and will translate that knowledge into results. It doesn’t matter if your car has the most powerful engine known to man- if that power doesn’t help turn the back wheels your fancy car won’t move all that well. The same goes for a family law attorney. All the smarts in the world can’t help you achieve your goals unless and until you retain a lawyer who knows how to turn knowledge into success for their clients.
An idea that I had in coming up with today’s blog post is to share with you an outline that I came up with in regard to hiring a family law attorney. Of course you may value some qualities more or less than I do. That’s human nature. However- I believe that the lion’s share of the criteria that I will lay out for you today is applicable to most every person going through a family law case.
The process of actually hiring an attorney
Whether you are experienced when it comes to working with attorneys or you’ve never met a lawyer in your life, I’d like to provide you with an overview of what it means to hire a family law attorney and how to go about doing so.
Hiring an attorney means going out into the world and sitting with the lawyer. You cannot get a complete impression of an attorney based on an online video, email or the opinion of your best friend from high school. It’s just not possible. You need to be able to meet with multiple attorneys (preferably one that works in family law) to be able to compare and contrast. This is especially important if you have never worked with an attorney before. How could you judge a lawyer if you have only met one?
Once you have met with a number of attorneys and asked them questions about the qualifications, experience, fees and the like you can make a decision to hire one. If you get a bad feeling about a lawyer this is not something that you should ignore. On the contrary, if that little voice inside you is telling you to leave their office you probably ought to listen. Not every attorney is going to be able to work well with you and vice versa. It is up to you in order to make that determination- nobody else can make it for you.
Working with an attorney (and following their advice)
Your relationship with your attorney will largely determine how successful you are in your family law case. The goals that you have set out for yourself can be achieved only by working with your attorney. You are paying the lawyer to provide you with advice. It is up to you whether or not to follow that advice. I have had clients who have willingly followed the advice that I have provided them. I have had clients who have begrudgingly followed the advice that I have provided them with. I have also had clients who have ignored my advice and proceeded to do their own thing in regard to any number of issues that became relevant in their case.
The wisest thing I think you can do in regard to building a relationship with your attorney is to consider that the advice of your attorney is intended solely to benefit you. It is not intended to benefit the attorney. It is not intended as a reflection of how the attorney feels about you as a person. Once you have laid out your goals for the attorney, he or she should then go over those goals with you. You can find out what goals you believe are realistic and what goals need to be scaled down some. You can also learn just how your attorney approaches you and your case by working with him or her in a goal setting session.
Finally, remember that your attorney works for you and not the other way around. You sought him or her ought and are paying this person to work on your case. Don’t lose sight of this just because they have a law degree and you may not. Also, if your attorney is giving you advice that you do not agree with you are not bound to accept it. Ask questions and seek clarification on issues raised by your attorney until you understand them fully. Once you do you can put yourself in a position to make an intelligent decision.
Goal setting sessions are essential
At the beginning of your case I recommend that you sit down with your attorney and go over your goals. I call this my “magic wand” meeting. Basically, I tell the client that if I could turn my pen into a magic wand and we could use that magic wand to accomplish all your goals for your case what would those goals be? What are your big goals? Small goals? Long term vs. short term goals? How do you expect to be able to achieve those goals? What evidence do you have to help you? What evidence do you need to get in order to help our cause? Taking the time to think about these things early on in your case can save you time down the road
Think about your case- and that of your spouse
What are the strengths and weaknesses of your case? If you intend to show that you are the most engaged and loving parent in the world and should be awarded a primary conservatorship as a result that’s great. However, you need to acknowledge that your work schedule may not allow for it. How will you overcome this in order to achieve your goal?
On the other hand it is critical that you help your attorney to understand your spouse. What type of personality does he or she have? What are their strengths and weaknesses as a parent? How do you expect that he or she will attack your case going forward. Help your attorney not to be caught off guard. Your attorney knows the law but he or she does not know your spouse. You need to be the one to help fill this void in information.
Have more questions about working your way through a divorce case in Texas? Stay tuned tomorrow to find out more about this subject
We hope that today’s blog post has helped you to develop your thinking in some very important areas of family law and preparing to begin a family law case. We will return tomorrow to continue this topic by discussing how to best organize a family law case and how to handle post divorce matters as well.
In the meantime if you have any questions about what you’ve read today please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. Our licensed family law attorneys stand ready to meet with you six days a week in order to go over your case and to assist you in problem solving any issues in your life. These consultations are free of charge and can improve your outlook a great deal. We work with clients across our community and would be honored to be able to do the same for you and your family.