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You never know when you will need to choose the best family law attorney, but you can be sure then when you do you want to select an experienced family lawyer who can represent you well.

We are going to review what the primary services provided by a family lawyer and then how you can select the best family law attorney in Bradenton for you.

This guide will provide several issues for you to consider to make the best choice possible.

Family law is a specialized area of the law which encompasses numerous specialties under its umbrella. The coalescing principle is that it focuses on issues connected to family relationships and domestic law.

Here at Brown and Brown’s downtown Bradenton office we address the following family law concerns:

Contested divorce

Uncontested divorce

Alimony

Collaborative divorce

Mediation

Prenuptial and post-nuptial agreements

Paternity issues

Adoption proceedings

Child custody

Child support

Domestic violence

Frequently our clients are facing issues in more than one of these categories at a time.  For example, when seeking a divorce, you may well need help with child custody and child support issues. Not all family lawyers specialize in the entire range of these areas.  It is most important is to find a quality attorney who can provide exactly the services you need.

Look for Recommendations and Read Online Reviews

If you have friends or family members who have obtained the types of legal services that you need, it can help to ask them about the attorneys they’ve used. How satisfied were they? What challenges, if any, did they face with that attorney?

In today’s world, you can easily find recommendations online. Most attorneys are listed with an AVVO profile where you can learn a great deal about their professional background, what past clients have to say, and even more, what their colleagues think and they truly know what it requires to be a successful attorney.

Create a reasonably comprehensive list of potential choices and look back through the clues you have for each. Be discerning when going through reviews but don’t let one or two bad ones deter you if there are also a significant number of positive ones. Even the best attorney fails to satisfy every client.

You will likely notice as you continue your search, particularly with online reviews, the same two or three names keep showing up. If so, that becomes your short list.

Now visit their websites and review how they present themselves. Do they provide the services you need? At a high level, does a law firm look like one you’d feel comfortable talking to?

Getting to the Initial Consultations

At this point, reach out to each firm on your short list for the best family law attorney to schedule a consultation which will may or may not be a free consultation. If there is a fee, it is usually applied to the service fee should your proceed with that attorney. Either way, you want to  make sure there is a good fit. The fit includes how comfortable you feel with the attorney and can you envision fully trusting them with securing the outcome you desire.

Questions to Ask During a Consultation with Your Family Law Attorney

Although it is easy to spend your entire consultation talking about your own situation, it is best to use your time to learn more about your potential lawyer’s relevant experience. Your online search should have revealed their degree particulars and when they graduated. This may or may not tell you how long they have practiced in the family law area and worked on cases similar to yours.  Ask how many cases (approximately) the attorney has handled that have been similar to your situation—and how well all turned out for the clients.

You may also want to know if the attorney specializes in the area of law you need, or if it’s one legal service offered among many. You may decide that you don’t need a specialist; but, if that is important to you, this is good information to have.

It’s reasonable to ask your attorney how he or she thinks your case may work out, what strategies he or she might use, and so forth.

Attorney Costs and Billing Methods

In general, the answer to the question of “How much does a family lawyer cost?” is that it depends. Fees and what they cover can range significantly. So, as you consult with family law attorneys to choose the right one for your situation, find out how, specifically, each lawyer charges and how you would need to pay those costs. How often would you be billed? When would the amount need to be paid?

The most common billing method used by attorneys is to charge an hourly rate. This rate can range anywhere from $100 on the low end to $1,000 and even more per hour on the high end.

Some attorneys require an upfront retainer that will cover the initial costs of your case. For example, an attorney who charges $500 an hour may require you to pay an upfront retainer of $2,000, and that would cover the first four hours of service. Beyond that, you would be billed an hourly rate for each hour of legal services performed.

Sometimes, an attorney may charge a flat rate for carefully-defined services, especially if the situation is not likely to be a contested one. For example, if an engaged couple has agreed upon the terms of their prenuptial agreement and simply needs the document drawn up to be signed, an attorney might agree to do so for a flat rate. In those cases, it’s important to know if you’d need to pay any additional filing fees or other charges.

After Choosing Your Best Family Law Attorney

Once you have made your selection, it will be important to gather and provide all the information needed to proceed. In some situations, there may be details that you don’t feel uncomfortable sharing, but you will get the best results if you share the whole story.

A key example would be in a contested divorce where you may not want to share information that could portray you in an unfavorable light. However, your lawyer needs all the relevant facts in her possession to determine the ways to present your case in a way that mitigates any potential damage.  A surprise midstream when you have not been forthcoming can complicate your case further.

Providing clear records and timelines of relevant events can help significantly, too. So, even if you didn’t keep comprehensive records in the past, or didn’t organize them well before, start doing so now. Keep track of relevant dates and times, locations, conversations, and so forth.