Whether it's dealing with divorce, custody battles, or adoption processes, the right family attorney can make a big difference in the outcome and emotional journey. 

But with so many attorneys out there, how do you choose the one that's best for your family's unique needs? 

Experience and Specialization

Not all attorneys are created equal, especially when it comes to family law. Don't be afraid to look at the attorney's website or ask them directly about their experience. 

  • How long have they been practicing family law? 
  • What percentage of their cases are family law-related? 
  • Do they have experience with cases similar to yours?

You should also consider where they appear to be spending most of their attention and focus. Does it look like family law is mostly what they do, or just a small piece of it?

“You'll want someone who doesn't just dabble in family law matters but has a strong foundation and focus in this area,” family law attorney Brian Walker says.

This is your chance to do some interrogation. It's better to ask too many questions up front than to find yourself a month down the line wishing you had asked more.

Communication Style

Communication is key in any attorney-client relationship, but it's especially crucial when dealing with sensitive family issues. You need someone who not only listens to you but also explains things in a way that you understand.

Pay attention to how the attorney communicates during your initial consultation. Do they take the time to listen to your concerns? Do they explain legal jargon in plain English? You want an attorney who makes you feel heard and understood.

Approach to Conflict Resolution

Family law cases can be emotionally charged, and the approach your attorney takes can significantly impact the process and outcome. Some attorneys are more aggressive, aiming for the courtroom, while others prefer negotiation and mediation to avoid lengthy legal battles.

Inquire about your attorney's approach to conflict resolution. See if they lean towards mediation and settlement, or if they prefer to take matters to court. Neither is necessarily right or wrong, but make sure their approach aligns with what you're comfortable with and what's best for your family's situation.

Compatibility and Philosophy

Your family attorney will be your guide and advocate during a potentially difficult time. Make sure their values and philosophy align with yours. For instance, if you're looking for a peaceful resolution, an attorney known for their aggressive tactics might not be the right fit.

During your consultation, discuss your goals and desired outcomes with the attorney. Ask about their philosophy when it comes to family law cases. This conversation can give you a good sense of whether you're on the same page. It can also help set the right expectations for the attorney, should you hire them.

Empathy and Understanding

Dealing with family law matters is not just a legal process – it's an emotional journey. You want an attorney who recognizes the emotional complexities of your case and shows empathy towards your situation.

Notice how the attorney responds to your story during your initial meeting. Do they show understanding and empathy? An attorney who acknowledges the emotional aspects of your case can provide the support you need during this challenging time.

Reputation and References

An attorney's reputation can tell you a lot about their professionalism and success rate. Consider their reviews and testimonials, and ask for references if possible.

Search for the attorney online to see what former clients have to say. You can also ask the attorney for references from past clients. While privacy laws may prevent them from sharing details, they can still provide general feedback that can help you make an informed decision.

Fees and Billing Practices

Every attorney has a fee and billing structure that determines how they get paid. As much as you might want to pretend this isn't a factor, it's absolutely one of the most important elements in choosing a lawyer. Some family law attorneys might bill by the hour, while others will offer flat rates for certain services. You also have some lawyers that require a retainer up front.

The best way to get clear on fee and billing practices is to ask ahead of time and get details in writing prior to agreeing to work with a lawyer. If you're uncomfortable with something or confused by the details, ask for clarity right away.

Find the Right Family Law Attorney for Your Needs

There's no such thing as the “right” or “best” attorney for everyone. There may, however, be some attorneys who are a better fit for you than others. The more time and effort you spend doing your due diligence, the more likely it is that you'll find a good fit. Good luck!