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January has unofficially been named Divorce Month by legal experts, due to the rise in cases filed during the first month of the year. Many experts believe that the reason for this trend is that couples don't want to get divorced over the holidays. Especially couples with children, who may have thought about divorce before the holidays, but want to stay married through the end of the year so the family holiday is not tainted by the divorce. 

“There is no such thing as the perfect lawyer, just the perfect lawyer for you,” says Kris Balekian Hayes, managing partner of Balekian Hayes, PLLC. “It's crucial for those who may find themselves in need of a family law attorney to understand how to choose the right one. That’s why we created the following guide to ensure those who need legal representation are empowered to make the best choice for their specific legal needs.”

What to look for in a family lawyer? It's essential to choose a divorce lawyer wisely because the decision will ultimately impact your bottom line. The best lawyer is one that is experienced, knowledgeable and fits well with your personality. As the client, you can set the tone for your divorce. Your lawyer is there to advise you and respect your position on approaching the negotiations. Just because a lawyer is expensive doesn't necessarily mean they are the best for you. Some firms will often honor your every wish knowing that you have no chance of prevailing. Some firms will advise against certain actions knowing they are not cost effective. Because different clients have different needs, its important to choose the attorney that best fits your needs. 

If you know someone who has obtained the types of legal services you need, ask them about the attorneys they've used and their experience. How satisfied were they? Did they face any challenges with that attorney? If you do not know anyone who has used a family lawyer before, consider finding a firm with client testimonials on their websites or many positive reviews online.  

What questions should I ask during a consultation? Many attorneys will offer a consultation to get to know you and your case. Take advantage of the consultation to learn more about your potential lawyer's credentials and experience. 

  • Ask how long they have been practicing law to determine whether they are an experienced veteran or a recent graduate—or fall somewhere in between. 
  • Ask how many cases the attorney has handled that have been similar to your situation—and how well they turned out for the clients. 
  • You may also want to confirm that the attorney specializes in the legal services 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, it’s important to know.  
  • Ask how they think your case may work out and what strategies they may use.

Is it important to find a family lawyer that is board certified? Because Family Law involves a wide range of family issues including marriage, divorce proceedings, legal custody and adoption, distribution of assets and ownership of property acquired before and during the marriage, and much more, it's crucial to find a lawyer that has specialized knowledge. A board certified family lawyer will have the knowledge and expertise needed to navigate state laws and codes ( e.g., Texas Family Code) and the trials and appeals of Family Law cases.

Do I need to hire a big firm? Not necessarily, a small boutique specializing in one specific area may be the best choice for some clients because they provide a more affordable service that has a personal feel. Small firms typically have no more than a dozen partners, but you are more likely to work with an experienced partner versus an up-and-coming associate. With fewer caseloads, chances are a small firm will make you feel like your case gets the attention it deserves. Additionally, small firms may be better at adopting new ways of doing things, based on what's most convenient for individual cases or client needs. Because there is less bureaucracy at smaller firms, they can be more flexible and more available when time is of the essence.

The best way to get guidance on your specific legal issue is to contact a lawyer. To schedule a meeting with Balekian Hayes, PLLC visit:  

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