5 Important Questions to Ask During Your Louisiana Family Law Consultation
If you find yourself needing a family law attorney for a custody, child support, spousal support (alimony) or other related issue, the uncertainty surrounding what to ask can be paralyzing. You are likely to have a million questions, but, when you arrive at your consultation, all too often, they are forgotten. Below find a handy guide that can help you determine if the Louisiana attorney you are meeting with regarding your family law issue is right for you.
What is your experience in family law?
There are all kinds of great lawyers out there, but one that is excellent in bankruptcy may not be your go-to attorney in a family law case. Family law is a specialized area of law that can be very different from other types of law. Deadlines are different, strategies are different, and most importantly, the stakes are different. Family law attorneys can be handling issues concerning your most precious legal issue – your children. Even if you don’t have children, the division of assets in a divorce or family law action can be daunting. Do not fall into the trap of believing – “I’m a lawyer, I can handle any legal issue.” Trusting an attorney who is not experienced in family law can have dire consequences for you, your children, and your assets.
What is your approach to cases like mine?
Depending on your circumstances, what you may what to hear can vary. For instance, in a situation where the parties are amicable and may be able to come to an agreement, the last thing you want the attorney to do is talk about a long litigation battle. If one party has a history of being bullied by another party, the client is likely to need someone to stand their ground and be more adversarial.
The easiest, cheapest, and fastest way to resolve a family law matter is for the parties to come to an agreement. You know yourself, your children and your spouse better than a judge does. Stay away from attorneys who want to create more controversy than is necessary. These attorneys may be motivated by an extended legal battle that can create an enormous cost to the client. A “scorched earth” approach is not advisable in every situation. Make sure that your attorney has your best interests in mind and can help you navigate an outcome that works for you and your family.
However, if you find yourself in a less powerful position, if your spouse is not being reasonable, or the situation is so tense that you can’t speak with your spouse about these issues at all, you will need someone to stand up for you. Your needs are different from someone who can discuss with their spouse an agreeable outcome. In this situation, your attorney should talk with you about the steps that need to be taken to further your interests.
An attorney should tell you what your rights are and make a recommendation as to a course of action. The attorney should take into account your particular situation and the specific facts of your case. No two cases are alike.
What are the strengths of my case?
It is important to know, when you apply the facts to the law, what parts of your case help further the outcome you want. These are the facts that the attorney should concentrate on when presenting your case. Often family law clients either second guess themselves or aren’t convinced that the course of action they are taking is the right one. An evaluation of the strengths of your case can also help a client determine how to act in the future.
More importantly, what are the weaknesses of my case?
It is even more important to know what hurts your case. A great attorney will be frank and honest with you regarding facts that do not further your interests. It is important that these issues are not only disclosed in the consultation, but also discussed in detail. I often tell clients that they should tell me what they don’t tell their priest. The earlier in the case the attorney is aware of issues that may negatively affect your desired outcome, the earlier a strategy can be formulated to deal with those issues. A lawyer that skirts around hard facts when you meet with him or her is not someone that can help you overcome them.
What is the firm’s philosophy regarding its clients?
This isn’t so much a question to ask, but an observation to be made. How are you treated in your consultation? Does the attorney talk at you and not with you? Does he or she ask you what is important to you? Express sympathy at the tough situation you are facing? Lawyers are not taught a “bedside manner” so to speak in law school. They are taught to look at a factual scenario and apply the law to those facts. It is often forgotten that the lawyer is working with a person with real issues, concerns, and emotions. If you do not feel like this is taken into account, then this may not be the right attorney for you.
If you have any further questions about your situation, please call, email, or message the experienced attorneys at Stanley-Wallace Law so that we can help you navigate this unfamiliar territory.