Choosing a competent attorney once you decide that legal advice is appropriate, can be challenging. Family law issues are emotionally draining and can take a heavy toll on a person. Seeking a lawyer specializing in domestic relations is warranted for these scenarios. If you do not have a family lawyer, you might seek the recommendations of friends, business associates, your clergy, or a counselor.
First, to begin the process of finding, you need to know the right places to look. For instance, you may call the Lawyer Referral Service of the Bar Association in your county. You may be able to get the name of an attorney who can assist with your particular problem. Some requests require small fees, you are entitled to one consultation with a recommended lawyer. After the conclusion of the first interview, the attorney will charge according to his or her regular fees.
Through the Legal Aid Bureau, legal assistance may be available to parties who are income-eligible. To determine whether you qualify for such assistance, you should contact the Legal Aid Bureau in your county.
Since a lawsuit is an adversarial or two-sided proceeding, it is highly recommended that you and your spouse not use the same lawyer. The court may not respect an agreement where each party has not been independently represented by a lawyer freely selected.
Furthermore, there are some basic considerations in finding a lawyer in your first meeting before you meet with your attorney:
- You can prepare a list to include important information regarding your marriage, the place of your marriage, and the dates;
- Take a note of the place and circumstances under which such marriages were terminated;
- Recall the name, date of birth, and place of birth of each child born or adopted during the marriage;
- Record an estimate of the income, expenses, assets, and liabilities of each spouse;
- Include a brief indication of what you want the attorney to do, for instance, offer advice about alternative courses of action, obtain a limited divorce and;
- Determine whether you are planning on filing for an absolute divorce, and, if so, know what grounds you have for the action, a brief description of the grounds, and available evidence.
Moreover, to properly represent your interests, your lawyer must be aware of all the facts. Understandably, you may be hesitant to discuss the details of your private life with a stranger, but remember, an attorney-client relationship is strictly confidential. Your lawyer must be in a position to evaluate objectively both your bargaining leverage and that of your spouse.
Furthermore, keep in mind that concealing any misconduct on your part that your spouse may use against you can harm your case. If you do this, your lawyer will not be prepared to protect you. It is vital to choose a lawyer who you trust as a professional. Your lawyer should be able to answer your questions in terms that you comprehend. You should also be assured that your lawyer will communicate with you when appropriate and be responsive to your concerns.
How to File for a Divorce?
Each state varies in the procedures of filing for divorce, but all states have basics in place such as timelines, required documents, and fees. For example, you can file for divorce in the District of Columbia (D.C.) if either you or your spouse has been a resident of D.C. for six months before the date you file the divorce papers with the court. It does not matter where you are married but you need to check your local state for more information on this. Only one of you has to meet the D.C. residency requirement. One can only request for alimony and distribution of marital property in your divorce case but if you failed to do so you will lose it.
Additionally, one may include requests for child custody and child support in a divorce case. You may also ask for child custody and or child support in a separate case from the divorce case. In some instances, a divorce can be filed in D.C. but child custody and child support must be filed in another state. There are two grounds for divorce in D.C. according to the courts:
- Separation without cohabitation for at least six months, if the separation is mutual and voluntary;
- Or separation without cohabitation for at least one year, if one of you does not agree to the separation and divorce, then the required separation period is one year.
What is the Role of a Divorce Attorney?
As the term entails, family lawyers focus on issues that have an impact on families. They commonly deal with matters such as divorce proceedings, adoptions, and child custody. Common tasks include drafting custody agreements, wills, prenuptial agreements, and other documents. While some family lawyers engage in litigation, it is considered a less prevalent aspect of this practice.
But family law is surprisingly broad. There are many issues to tackle and they are all interconnected. You have to determine different perspectives and it is oftentimes emotionally challenging. In divorce cases, for example, considerations may include whether they are handled on a fault or no-fault basis, how assets will be divided, and various possible grounds such as irreconcilable differences, mental cruelty, or desertion.
Moreover, decisions from the cases have life-altering impacts on the families involved. Socially, it may be hard to digest it all. Child custody and support may be major factors as well. Furthermore, some family law attorneys also delve into criminal law, dealing with individuals who have been accused of abuse or neglect. Finally, as society transforms and technology advances, new aspects of family law are likely to emerge. Applications in genetic engineering of human beings, for instance, may bring a new set of legal questions that family law attorneys will help address.
Additionally, beyond the specialized knowledge, succeeding as a family lawyer requires the same basic skills as other legal areas: strong written and verbal communication, time management, critical thinking, analysis, etc. Moreover, strong “people skills” are crucial for family lawyers. Given the deeply personal issues common in family law, the ability to relate calmly and constructively with people who may be emotionally vulnerable is a must.
Another reality of a family law practice that should be recognized is that dealing with people in these situations such as custody battles or divorce can be personally challenging. This is because you are essentially dealing with all the most intimate personal details of other people’s lives.
However, despite these challenges, family law has much to offer, and supporting clients in the most difficult life situations can be deeply rewarding. Family law remains a crucial legal specialty, covering issues core to a society’s culture and values.
When Do I Need to Contact a Lawyer?
If you are filing for a divorce, it is highly recommended to seek out a local divorce attorney to assist you with the process.