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9 Questions to ask a family law lawyer

These are the key questions to ask a family law lawyer when you first meet to guide your conversation and see if they're the right fit for you.

evident Editorial Team
December 13, 2022
Ballpoint pen and notepad

Family law is one of the most personal areas of law, as it encompasses a range of topics that generally relate to the creation or termination of family ties. As such, it’s important to work with an experienced lawyer who has a strong understanding of your needs. 

Price is an important consideration when finding legal help, but other factors to consider include the family law attorney’s experience, approach to your case, and expertise. 

We recommend asking the below questions when deciding which family law attorney to work with. 

Here’s a useful list of questions to ask a family law lawyer, which we’ll explain in more detail below:

Checklist of the key questions to ask a family law attorney

Key Takeaways

Is family law your primary focus?

Some attorneys solely focus on family law, whereas others practice several other types of law in addition to family law. 

Working with an attorney who exclusively handles family law cases could be helpful, as it likely means they’ve seen a wider range of cases and may have a better understanding of your specific needs, particularly if your needs are unique. 

That isn’t to say lawyers with broader practices can’t be a great fit. We suggest you evaluate your options holistically to find the lawyer that fits your needs best. 

Do you focus on any particular areas of family law?

Some attorneys only take cases in specific areas of family law, such as divorce. Similarly, attorneys with broad practices may have never handled a custody case, for example, simply because they haven’t had the opportunity to. 

The key is to find an attorney who has experience in the specific area of family law that applies to your case. As covered in our Family Law Overview, these areas include divorce and legal separation, child custody, alimony, prenuptial agreements, adoption, and guardianship, among others. 

If your issue is specific to divorce, you can check out our list of questions to ask a divorce lawyer here.

How long have you been practicing family law?

Experience is invaluable and should be an important consideration when selecting a lawyer. 

However, more experience often means a higher price. Bear in mind that less experienced lawyers who have more reasonable prices can be just as smart and capable even though they may have handled fewer cases so far. 

How will you charge me for your services?

The cost of handling your family law case will vary widely based on the nature of your case and the experience of your attorney. Regardless, your lawyer should be able to provide a range of how much your case will cost from start to finish. 

Be aware that factors outside of your lawyer’s control – such as the opposing party’s level of cooperation – can inflate your case’s costs. This is relatively common in family law cases.

Does the attorney have good online reviews?

When looking for an attorney online, you will likely come across past client reviews. These reviews are a useful way to understand typical client feedback about the attorney. However, keep in mind that it’s often hard to tell if these online reviews are from a verified client, and they’re usually very basic star ratings between 1-5. 

This is why we recommend checking out attorney reviews on evident. Our rating system goes beyond a simple 1-5 star rating, with users rating each attorney based on a range of factors, such as: 

  1. Responsiveness to emails and phone calls 
  2. How well the attorney estimated the cost of their services and if that estimation changed later on (in other words, were there any surprise bills or fees)
  3. How well the attorney explained the process and the client’s options for solving their legal issue 

When you have several options with similar levels of experience, comparing them across these factors can make a big difference. 

How long will it take to resolve my case?

Similar to the cost, the timeline of your case will largely depend on its complexity and what area of family law it’s in. In the case of divorce, if you’re on good terms with your spouse and don’t have any complicated property matters to resolve, your case could only take a few months. But if not, your divorce could take over a year.

As with any legal issue, your lawyer should be clear about what the process will look like and how long it will take, even if their timeline is just an estimate.

How will we communicate?

Most lawyers, including family law lawyers, have different communication preferences. Some prefer to talk over email, whereas others prefer speaking over video calls or on the phone. Consider your own preferences when it comes to communication to ensure you select a lawyer whose preferences align with yours. 

Whatever your preference, it’s important to know how to contact your lawyer should any questions or issues arise.

How often can I expect to hear from you?

There’s no right answer here – it’s up to you to decide what you’re comfortable with when it comes to communication with your attorney. The goal of asking this question is to make sure you’re satisfied with a lawyer’s standard communication practices before hiring them.

What do you need from me?

If you decide to hire the family law attorney that you speak with, you’ll likely need to sign a retainer agreement and some other paperwork to formalize your relationship. In general, though, this is a good question to ask because your family law lawyer will need your help and participation to achieve the best possible outcome in your case.

The bottom line

Price, experience, and your comfort level with the lawyer are just three of the many factors to consider before hiring legal representation. Family law issues deal with the things we hold most dear in life, making the search for the right attorney even more important. 

These questions should help you evaluate your options, but since family law is so personal, trust your instincts on whether an attorney is the right fit for you. 

Our platform provides all of the information you’ll need to streamline your search and easily compare your options for attorneys.