- Finding the right lawyer for your legal matter can make a world of difference in the outcome of your case;
- When choosing a family lawyer, a wide range of qualities matter, from their experience to how they make you feel when you talk to them;
- Having a consultation with a lawyer does not mean that you have to work with them. Talk to multiple lawyers to find the right family lawyer for you.
Being involved in a legal matter can be overwhelming and stressful – especially when it concerns the future and welfare of your family.
It’s not uncommon to feel out of sorts and unsure of what you should do. While not all legal matters will necessarily require the involvement of a family lawyer, when you do want to work with one, having to choose the best family lawyer for you can be an almost equally overwhelming and daunting situation.
To help make this process easier, we’ve put together a guide on how to find the right family lawyer for you, with a focus on finding a family lawyer.
Why is it important to find the right lawyer for you?
Many people have never been involved in a serious legal matter before, nor have they had to use the services of a lawyer. When they do need one, particularly for a family law matter, it can be at one of the most stressful times of their lives, which can make the process of finding the right family lawyer even more challenging.
But the right lawyer can be extremely beneficial to your circumstances. They can make the process of your legal matter less stressful, by ensuring you can make informed decisions and that all of your requirements are fulfilled. While a lawyer’s services can be costly, so can a legal matter that you try to resolve yourself. The efficiency a lawyer can provide might actually be more cost-effective than if you were to try to resolve the matter on your own.
Perhaps most importantly, a great family lawyer can help you move on with your life sooner rather than later.
What kind of legal matter are you involved in?
There are a lot of lawyers in Australia, in fact, according to Lawyers Weekly, in 2020 there were more than 83,000 practising solicitors in Australia. Which makes it pretty obvious as to why people may find the process of choosing a lawyer quite difficult.
Within the legal profession there are a number of different legal practice areas that a lawyer can work and specialise in, some of which include criminal law, commercial law, immigration law, employment law and family law. Within each of these types of law, there are further areas or processes that a lawyer may specialise in.
When you’re searching for a lawyer, knowing the area of law that your matter fits within may help you in narrowing down your search for a lawyer.
What is a family lawyer and what kinds of matters can they help with?
Family law is one of the types of law that a lawyer can specialise in, and it deals with a wide variety of legal issues that involve the relationships of family members.
Some of the legal matters that a family lawyer may help you to resolve include:
- Divorce and/or separation ;
- Property settlement and asset division;
- Parenting matters, including child custody and child support;
- Domestic violence protection orders;
- Binding financial agreements, such as prenuptial agreements; and
- Surrogacy and adoption agreements.
A family lawyer may offer advice, negotiate and/or represent their clients if they are involved in any of the above situations, as well as various other family law matters that you could be involved in.
A family lawyer’s role is complex as it is their job to provide legal guidance during what can be an extremely difficult time in their client’s lives. This requires not only an in-depth understanding of the law, but also a great deal of empathy, compassion and patience.
When do you need a family lawyer?
If you’re involved in a family law matter you don’t have to engage the services of a family law attorney, you can represent yourself in basically every type of family law matter – however, as we mentioned earlier, the right lawyer can make the process a lot simpler.
You also don’t need to wait to be involved in a legal matter before talking to a lawyer, you can be proactive in circumstances where you think an issue could arise, or you can seek their legal advice generally.
For example, if you’re married with three children, your partner is the financial provider for the household, but you’re considering separation, you could discuss this with a family lawyer to see the support you may be eligible for, and what your legal responsibilities are.
Our advice is to seek the advice of a family lawyer as soon as you have any questions or want to understand something that may affect you and/or your family.
It’s important to note that while you may not be involved in a legal matter, if you do choose to talk to a lawyer, you may be required to pay for their service. However, many lawyers, including family law attorneys offer a free consultation where you could discuss your situation too.
What makes a family lawyer great?
While many lawyers can provide you with good service and potentially favourable results, when your matter involves something as precious as the wellbeing of you and your family, it’s important to choose the best family lawyer for you.
Here are some of the things that can make a world of difference in your family law matter.
1. The lawyer needs to be passionate about family law
Family law is complex and can involve situations where clients are feeling highly emotional and stressed. To be able to provide guidance, advice, support and representation to their clients adequately, a family lawyer needs to be passionate about what they do and how they can help people.
How can you tell if a lawyer is passionate about family law? Many lawyer’s websites will include profiles of each lawyer at their firm that outlines their experience and interests. One reason for this this is to make it easier for potential clients to learn more about the team and understand who they could be working with.
2. The lawyer should specialise solely in family law
Keeping up with the latest legal news is extremely important but not easy to do – especially if a lawyer covers all sorts of different types of laws.
A lawyer who specialises solely in family law is able to stay on top of the latest news and legislation updates. This is particularly important in the family law sector as the matters a family lawyer deals with are often very sensitive in nature. Family law can be quite complex too, with many different outcomes and avenues possible, you want to work with a lawyer who understands family law as thoroughly as possible.
3. The family lawyer should have experience in various areas of family law
While you want to choose a lawyer who specialises in family law, you don’t necessarily want to work with a family lawyer who only works in one area within family law – such as a lawyer who only works on child custody matters.
Whilst they may be able to offer a lot of knowledge from their experience in child custody matters, often a family law matter will involve multiple areas of family law.
A family lawyer who has experience in various areas, like property settlements, divorce, and spousal maintenance can draw upon these different experiences and apply them to your unique circumstances. This can give your legal matter a more well-rounded form of support.
4. The family lawyer should work in a law firm that specialises in family law
A lot of law firms will offer family law services among many other law services, like business, commercial and construction law. While they may have some dedicated family lawyers, there is likely to be less relevant experience to draw upon.
Even when a family lawyer specialises in family law and is experienced in a wide variety of matters, there still may be circumstances in a matter that are unique, or they have not experienced before. However, their colleagues may have.
Being able to leverage the experience and knowledge of their colleagues within the family law firm means that you have access to a broad range of knowledge – which is of significant value to you.
One of the reasons family law matters are so complex is that every situation will have the unique factors that make it different from any other case. Sometimes these factors will be minor nuances, while in other situations, it could lead to setting a precedent in the family law sector. Either way, having a wealth of experience in the team you choose is going to be helpful.
5. They should be a good listener
To be able to provide you with accurate information and find the best outcome for your circumstances, your family lawyer needs to be a good listener.
During a consultation with your lawyer, you should feel that they understand your situation and have actually listened to not only the circumstances of the matter, but also your desired outcome.
How can you tell if someone is a good listener? If someone is really listening, they will be able to understand and take in the details of your situation and also be able to ask you relevant questions. They also won’t spend the majority of your consultation with them talking, unless you’re asking them questions.
Lawyers generally are great listeners as they need to formulate a response or argument based on facts you provide, however, it’s also possible for a lawyer to have existing arguments based on their past experience.
6. You should feel comfortable with them
Family law matters tend to involve very personal information and details. They can also be very emotional. Which is why it’s important to work with a family lawyer you feel comfortable with. You’re going to be spending time with them, divulging a lot of information, and to get the best outcome, you need to be providing them with honest and accurate information – which can be difficult to do if you do not feel like you can trust them.
The reasons you may feel comfortable with someone will differ from the reasons another person will feel comfortable, so we’re not going to tell you exactly what to look for. Instead, we’re going to give you a tip about finding the lawyer you feel most comfortable with.
Just because you have a consultation or meeting with a lawyer, it does not mean you have to engage their services. In fact, many lawyers offer a free first consultation, which is a great time for you to feel out your potential family lawyer. You can ask them questions, provide them with information, and if at the end you don’t feel comfortable, you don’t have to work with them.
Many lawyers offer this free consultation to allow them to see if they can help you but also to allow you to have a chance to see if they feel like a good fit for you too. A great family lawyer knows how important this relationship is and respects your need to be comfortable too.
How to find a family lawyer?
There are many different ways to start your search for a family lawyer. It could be as simple as Googling “family lawyer near me”, asking a friend or family member for a recommendation, or visiting a local lawyer.
However, to ensure you hire the right family lawyer for you, we recommend following these steps:
Do your research
While you might enjoy the convenience of the lawyer who is down the road from you, it doesn’t mean that they are the best option. Whether you’re already involved in a legal matter, or you think you may need the assistance of a lawyer, take the time to research and start it as early as you can.
You don’t want to rush the process of selecting a family lawyer where possible. You could look online for family law firms in Australia (depending on your situation, you may not need to be in the same area as them), you could get recommendations from people you know, or you could check out various support groups for their recommendations too.
When doing your research, take their reviews into consideration. Most reputable family law firms will have reviews online.
Talk to multiple lawyers
You don’t need to work with the first lawyer you find. As we mentioned earlier, it’s important to choose a lawyer you genuinely feel comfortable with. You’re not going to know how you feel until you actually speak to a lawyer either. As many lawyers do offer a free, first consultation, you can get an idea as to whether they are a good fit for you during the consultation.
Most lawyers will provide a cost estimate for dealing with your matter after your first consultation too. This can be a great tool in helping you decide who to work with. However, we do recommend being mindful that working with a family lawyer is an investment in the future of your family, so the cheapest option isn’t necessarily going to be the best option.
During your consultation, it’s important to be honest about your circumstances, but also to be open to hearing some information that you may not want to. Chances are that there may be scenarios or outcomes that are less favourable for you, and this can be upsetting to hear. However, a great family lawyer will not hide these details from you, rather they will aim to make you aware of all potential outcomes which can allow you to be able to make informed decisions for your circumstances.
Do you need a great family lawyer?
If you’re looking for a family lawyer who can help you through a challenging family law matter in Australia, then Unified Lawyers is here to help you.
Our family law firm is dedicated to providing our clients with empathetic, honest and outstanding legal services. We make it our duty to understand our client’s circumstances and provide them with accurate and thorough information that outlines their options.
Discuss your matter with us in a free consultation today.