Hiring a family law attorney can be a daunting task. In many situations you may not wish to chance the risks of going it alone without the advice of an experienced lawyer who can help you out. In fact, while good legal representation may not be cheap, it can help get you out of a number of sticky situations.
How do I locate a Family Law Attorney?
The first thing you should consider when hiring a family law attorney is where you will be filing or responding to a legal action. If you have a case in California, you should look for a California family law attorney licensed to practice law in the State of California. A California attorney will know the applicable law that may be used in your case. You can further limit a search by hiring a family law attorney located in Sacramento. A Sacramento family law attorney will be familiar with the local court rules.
Do I need an attorney?
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It is probably better to avoid problems in the first place rather than try to fix them once they arise. If you have an attorney, in many instances, it will help you avoid potential legal headaches down the road. You should hire an attorney if you do not comfortable with the legal issues present in your case. An experienced attorney will know what documents need to be filed, which court to file, and what information needs to be presented in your case.
Do I have a complicated matter?
Your case is complicated if you need help understanding the issues or the court process. If you are not a family law you should carefully consider the consequences of representing yourself in certain instances. Even an experienced family law attorney will not typically represent themselves in court. A solid case can quickly unravel without the help of a trained and emotionally detached family law attorney. Similarly, failing to hire a family law attorney at the beginning of an action can result in otherwise avoidable pitfalls.
Can I afford a Family Law Attorney?
Not having a family law attorney may actually cost you more. What is at stake? Should you not address all issues in your case, you may end-up hiring a family law attorney who will now charge you to review your case and possibly be required to file amendments to your case. Also, you may be able to claim legal fees in a civil case and actually save yourself some money by hiring a family law attorney.
What difficulties will I have at trial?
Lawyers know how to challenge (and sometimes suppress) evidence. You may not even know that a key piece of evidence against you was improperly obtained or that the testimony of a witness contradicts an earlier statement.
Will you need an expert witness? Because you don’t know any expert witnesses or private detectives, you will have difficulty locating and retaining an expert. Attorneys depend on an extended network of professionals to help their clients’ cases. Most non-attorneys do not personally know the types of professionals who can help with discovery or challenge evidence or testimony by the opposing party.
Can I file my own court documents?
Attorneys understand how to properly file court documents and handle other legal procedures. If you’re not an attorney, you may struggle with the deadlines and protocol for properly filling out and filing certain legal documents. One late or incorrect filing could derail your case, delay a given legal procedure or worse – have the case thrown out altogether (and not in your favor).
Do I need to file first or should I wait?
You decision whether or not to file first depends on what issues need to be addressed in your case. When you file as a petitioner you have the advantage of “controlling” the case; most importantly, filing for a default. When you file as a respondent you can challenge the petitioner’s allegations who has the burden of proof. An attorney who understands the law will be best situated to explain your options and can help you avoid potentially severe pitfalls even before you file or respond to an action.
Can I settle my case out of court?
A good lawyer can be key to facilitating a settlement offer or agreement, if necessary. An experienced lawyer most likely has seen cases similar to yours or at least knows enough to make a calculated guess about how it might be resolved. Sometimes a settlement is the best choice, while other times it makes more sense to see your case through to trial. An attorney also can help you negotiate a fair settlement with the opposing party.
What if the other party has an attorney?
You are generally at a disadvantage when the other party has an attorney and you do no. Anyone can represent themselves in court but they miss having someone to give them an objective opinion. More importantly, you will not have someone who may “see things” that you miss or do not understand.
Should I get a free consultation?
Many lawyers often are willing to provide a free initial consultation. Take advantage of a free offer to meet with an attorney to discuss your case with you. Even if you do not hire the attorney, you will get insight about your case.
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