Just like any other matter of dispute, there are family issues that are too intense to be resolved behind closed doors. Family issues like divorce, child custody, alimony etc. need legal attention like any other matter of civil or criminal importance.
And of course, with such heated cases, legal expert guidance is also important. Family lawyers help you lead family cases to reach a suitable verdict from the judge that benefits you. Let’s see what family lawyers do and how much they cost.
What does a Family Lawyer do?
A family lawyer is responsible for handling cases of family disputes, like divorce, child custody, alimony, domestic violence, child abuse, parental negligence, adoption, foster care etc.
They build cases and take up to court to resolve disputes legally and through mutual consent, something that couples aren’t able to do themselves. As part of their job, a family lawyer completes the following roles:
- Attend meetings with clients
- Research similar previous cases to the ones they are working on
- Analyse points of law
- Draft legal documents, such as witness statements
- Investigate and evaluate evidence that might be beneficial for their clients
- Negotiate with opposition to reach a settlement agreement
- File applications in the family court
- Meet with barristers to discuss matters going to trial
- Attend hearings in court before a judge or jury
How to become a Family Lawyer?
To become a family lawyer, it isn’t just receiving education. Family lawyers have to deal with adults and children, and have to really understand relationship dynamics before they make decisions. A family lawyer must be able to detach his personal views and always remain professional to be able to reach a conclusion that is both effective and mutual.
The first step towards becoming a family lawyer is definitely getting a bachelor’s degree, obviously one in a related field is preferred. This isn’t exactly a prerequisite but it is necessary to move on to law school. And for that, a candidate must give the LSAT, and get a good score too because law school admissions are highly competitive. There are four parts of the test, which include reading comprehension, analytical reasoning, logical reasoning, as well as a writing sample.
Once the LSAT is cleared, the student gains admission in a law school, where their professional journey of becoming a lawyer begins. The program is usually three years long, where there is a lot of reading and mentoring involved; and students are given theoretical knowledge of becoming a family lawyer.
At the end of this three year program, candidates receive a Juris Doctor Law Degree, which opens their door to be eligible for giving the Bar exam. But before that, students are required to give the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) and pass it before applying for the Bar.
Giving the Bar’s state examination is the final step to becoming a family lawyer, which gives you a license to legally practice law. The next step is to gain professional work experience through internships, or working under experts to gain hands-on experience of the practical world and real life cases.
How much does a Family Lawyer cost?
Depending on the experience of the lawyer, attorney fees can range from $85 to $400 per hour, and some family lawyers may demand full or a percentage of retainer, which is the upfront amount required to pay. Generally, on average, a family lawyer charges $250 an hour.
An entry-level Family Law Attorney with less than 1 year experience can expect to earn an average total compensation (includes tips, bonus, and overtime pay) of $58,341 and an attorney with 1-4 years of experience earns an average total compensation of $67,141.
A mid-career Family Law Attorney with 5-9 years of experience earns an average total compensation of $82,601 and an experienced Family Law Attorney with 10-19 years of experience earns an average total compensation of $85,633. It really depends on their level of experience and years of handling family law cases that demonstrates how much a family lawyer costs and how much they earn annually.
The cost also differs by state, states like New York have more costly lawyers as compared to Maine or North Carolina. Thus your geo-location is als a deciding factor of how much you’re expected to pay to a family lawyer to solve your dispute.
How to find a good Family Lawyer?
To find a good credible family lawyer, ask around and see which of your friends and family have had a successful case or pleasant experience with someone. Having a personal testimony with you will obviously clear a big percentage of doubt about choosing a good attorney suitable for your case. Word of mouth is your greatest weapon!
You can search for attorneys online, study their website, check reviews and then personally meet them or request for a free consultation. Once you’ve checked 3-5 attorneys, you’ll realize which one of those was a perfect fit for your case and budget.
If your case is of a sensitive matter like child custody or alimony where you can’t risk losing the case, don’t let cost be the only deciding factor. Choose an expert who deals with such cases and make sure you have everything in place. Keep all documentation ready and make sure they understand your perspective before building on the case.
Personal compatibility is very important. Unless you find someone willing to get on your level to understand things your way, there is no way you can get on mutual grounds. If you don’t feel comfortable the first or second time meeting them, it is best to drop them and move on to hiring another family lawyer. If there isn’t any compatibility, the case is going to get messier before you even realize it.
Hiring a family lawyer may be costly, but is super important when you see yourself in a legal feud with your spouse. To resolve legal issues, you need to hire a lawyer to bring the case to court where a judge can evaluate the case and likewise give a suitable verdict.
A family lawyer covers all domestic issues that a disputed relationship may form and is costly in most states. But money and budget shouldn’t be the only deciding factor because family issues are sensitive, emotional and losing the case can lead to severe consequences. So most people don’t even risk this and hire the most experienced attorney they can find.