The legal profession in Alabama has a colorful history dating back to the 1830s when it grew at exponential levels. To this day, getting into the Alabama State Bar is no walk in the park. The rigors of law school and the bar exams prepare new lawyers for even more intensive training in the interpretation of laws and cases as well as legal ethics.
As of 2020, there are 14,822 licensed lawyers in the state of Alabama. These attorneys are all spread out, practicing in different fields like personal injury, estate planning, bankruptcy, criminal, and family. There are several other fields that attorneys in Alabama focus on.
Family Law is one of the major fields of law. It is a legal practice area that covers issues in family relationships like marriage and child custody. Lawyers that focus on family law represent clients in family court proceedings.
Why Hire A Family Law Attorney?
The most common case that family law attorneys represent is divorce and divorce-related issues like child custody and property division. Some of the instances when people hire a family lawyer include:
- Divorce – when couples get a divorce, each spouse gets their own attorney. A skilled divorce lawyer will try hard to avoid trial and settle the matter out of court. An experienced attorney will be knowledgeable on things like division of property, planning out child visitation, calculating spousal support payments, and other divorce-related issues.
- Child custody and child support – A divorce degree usually covers child custody and child support.
- Adoption or foster care – adoption is a very complicated issue that involves various factors and even different state laws, depending on where the adopted child is from. In cases where foster parents decide to adopt their foster child, legal proceedings may be required.
- Paternity – establishing paternity is a remedy for mothers to demand child support but on the other hand, a child’s biological father may file for paternity in order to have a relationship with the child.
What To Look For When Hiring A Family Law Attorney In Alabama?
A person looking to hire an attorney needs to consider several things. The number one consideration is the attorney’s knowledge of the issue. Years of training and experience in a particular field gives them the knowledge they need to provide their clients the representation best suited for their needs.
Another important matter to consider when looking to hire an attorney is character. In order for a lawyer to provide the most effective assistance in a case, the client needs to provide all pertinent details, including personal matters that are relevant. This means the client needs to have full confidence in the lawyer and be able to share sometimes even the most intimate details. In family law cases, the information shared can be very sensitive and personal. It’s important that the lawyer is trustworthy and has good moral standing. Peer reviews and client testimonials are good things to consider when researching an attorney’s character.
Experience is another very important aspect to weigh when looking to hire an attorney. A lawyer with relevant experience will not just have knowledge of the law but also the wisdom to apply it under the right circumstances. Clients that are looking for family law attorneys are likely going through some very difficult legal issues concerning family. Important relationships are not something people readily entrust to novice lawyers.
And perhaps the most important factor that people look at when hiring a lawyer is the fees. A lot of people get put off by lawyers’ high rates. Many attorneys offer viable payment options like paying by milestone or other financing options. It’s always better to ask first rather than shy away at the thought of high lawyer fees. Legal proceedings involving family matters are very important and possibly life altering. They involve things that you just can’t throw out the window by simply hiring the cheapest lawyer without considering the other factors like experience, knowledge, and character.
What To Ask During An Initial Consult
Most law firms these days offer a free initial consultation. During this meeting, the potential client discusses the details of their situation. It is also the best chance to interview the attorney and find out if they are a good fit. Here are some questions that a client can ask:
- How long have you been a lawyer?
A veteran lawyer would obviously have more experience than a novice but this doesn’t mean that a beginner lawyer should be passed over every time. There are cases that are simple enough to be handled by an inexperienced lawyer. Also, there are beginners that are knowledgeable enough to handle more complex cases. Knowing how long a lawyer has been practicing should at least give the client an idea on what to expect.
- What is your practice area of focus?
A criminal case will definitely be better handled by a criminal defense lawyer than a divorce lawyer. And similarly, divorce matters will be more efficiently handled in the hands of a divorce lawyer than in a criminal lawyer’s. While some lawyers do cross practice areas, most stick to related practice areas to better improve their experience and training.
- Who are your usual clients?
Understanding a lawyer’s usual clientele will help determine if he is suitable for a case. For example, a lawyer that works with corporations will not be the best choice for handling an individual’s case. Or one that works mostly with high net-worth clients might not be the best choice for a struggling student.
- Have you represented cases similar to this one?
A lawyer’s experience on a particular case under similar circumstances can certainly affect the success of the case. It will also give a potential client more information to process when comparing with other lawyers.
- Do you have any specialized training that you can apply to my case?
There is specialized training for specific legal issues that can help improve the lawyer’s chance of success in a case. For example, there are DUI cases.
- How would you approach my particular case or similar cases?
A person looking for a lawyer to work on an amicable divorce might not want a hardcore lawyer that guts the other spouse by taking everything but the other party’s skin. And conversely someone looking for an aggressive lawyer would not want someone that’s very conservative in approach.
- What other ways would you suggest to solve my issue?
It’s a chance for the client to view the various options the case may be handled. Not everything has to be taken to trial and in the same manner, not everything can be settled out of court.
- How do you inform clients of the case status?
Clients have every right to be updated on the status of their case. It would be wise to find out if the lawyer considers this and provides regular feedback to clients. It’s frustrating for a client to have to keep calling or reaching out just to get an update on their case which they are paying to be handled.
- What do you think are the chances my case wins or not?
While it’s unethical for lawyers to make empty promises of success to clients, it’s fair for clients to ask what the lawyer thinks the chances of success are. An honest answer would help the client look forward and prepare for any eventuality.
- What are your payment options?
Lawyers’ fees can get expensive but many of them offer financing plans that make it easier for clients to pay over a fixed period. These options can also be flexible so potential clients should not be afraid to ask.
Hiring a Family Law attorney in Alabama will be easier and more smooth-sailing if the right answers are asked. Lawyers are there to help people navigate the legal system more efficiently and effectively.
Charlotte Christian Family Law is an award-winning law firm based in Alabama that focuses on family law and divorce. They have offices in Huntsville, Birmingham, and Athens, Alabama but can provide service to the rest of Alabama. Their team of experienced lawyers works with other professionals to provide clients with holistic representation. They work with psychologists, financial advisers, real estate appraisers, and other experts that provide valuable insight in matters relevant to each case.
If you are in need of the services of a family law attorney in Alabama, look into the factors discussed above. Consider the lawyer’s knowledge, character, experience, and fees. When doing an initial consultation, remember that it’s not a commitment yet, you’re completely free to decide whether to hire them or not. Don’t hesitate to ask the questions suggested above. It’s completely alright to ask. This is your chance to see if you and the lawyer/firm are a good fit for each other. In any case, when facing a legal issue concerning family matters in Alabama, hiring a family law attorney is your best shot at getting an ideal outcome.