What to Expect When You Work with a Seattle Family Law Attorney at Our Firm
When clients first contact us about seeing one of our Seattle family law attorneys, they have a lot of questions. On this page we try and answer some of the things people going into divorce often wonder about.
Talk to a Seattle Family Law Lawyer Sooner Rather Than Later
When is the right time to hire a divorce lawyer? Is it too early…could it be too late?
Every situation is unique, including yours. We find people will seek out legal guidance at different stages of their divorce. Sometimes it is because they are afraid of what is going to happen next or they are in denial of the situation. We find lots of people thought things were going smoothly only to find out too late that their case is headed to court and they are not prepared.
Just make sure if you think you might even remotely be in need of legal services for your divorce that you at least ask a Seattle family lawyer some questions to clarify your situation and give you better guidance for what to do next.
The short answer is it is never too early to TALK to a divorce lawyer. Without knowing your exact circumstances it is impossible to know if you need to HIRE a lawyer yet. What we can tell you is that contacting a Seattle family lawyer at our firm does not commit you to anything.
Can’t I Just Hire the Lawyer Who Handled My Estate Plan/Personal Injury Case/etc.?
Divorce can be tricky and people can really get hurt both emotionally and financially. This is precisely why you should find a Seattle family law attorney that focuses on divorce and family law. These family law firms are experienced in the subtle nuances that make up the divorce process. They can help you avoid pitfalls and often times bring things to a speedy and healthy resolution.
It can also be useful to get fresh eyes on your situation and consult with someone that does not have any bias about your spouse. They can approach things with a clean slate and help you make the best decisions for you.
The Small Firm Difference
Unlike some other areas of the law, many of the best divorce attorneys work in small offices or even in solo practices. During something so personal as a divorce you want to find the Seattle family law attorney that is the right fit for you. This is not just a simple cookie cutter situation and you don’t want to be treated like a number instead of a client.
Not every good lawyer is a good fit for every client. Sometimes the personalities just don’t mesh, and sometimes the goals of the client and attorney are different. The family lawyer should listen as well as talk. You should feel from the first meeting that they care about you and your situation.
Find a firm that you have rapport with and you will be much happier in the long run. Small to medium sized firms tend to provide a more personal service and better access to your lawyer. Ask yourself if you prefer being a small part of a bottom line or someone that is cared for and respected as a person.
What Should I Expect When I First Meet with a Seattle Family Law Attorney at Your Firm?
The initial consultation is mainly to get to know each other. We want to find out a bit about you and your situation, and you can get a sense of whether the attorney seems like a good fit. We typically also give you some basic information about how divorce works and what some of your options may be. You will probably also have some burning questions that we can start to answer.
It is important that you pay attention not just to the information we provide, but also to whether the lawyer’s approach and values match your own. That is what we mean by being a good fit. No matter how good a lawyer might be, if they are not someone who you feel comfortable with, who is not going to approach the case in the way you would, then you are not going to feel listened to and cared for.
When you leave after that first meeting, we want you to feel that you are in good hands, that you are regaining control over your life, and that there is a path forward.
Why Do You Charge for Your First Meeting?
Any reputable lawyer that is looking out for your best interests will allow you to contact them to see if they are the right fit for you, your situation, and your goals. A top-notch firm will be interviewing you while you are interviewing them.
Some attorneys will offer free consultations to get you in the door, but like many reputable firms we do charge a nominal fee for the initial consultation. The information you get at that initial consultation will be well worth the money you paid, and may help you avoid costly mistakes down the road.
The other issue you need to be looking out for is any firm that is too quick to bring you on as a client. During the first consultation your Seattle family lawyer should be helping you make the decision, not trying to push you into anything.
We Pride Ourselves on Being a Cost-Effective Family Law Firm
Trials can be expensive, drawn out, difficult affairs. It is true that sometimes you have to go all the way to trial, but a good Seattle family lawyer will do everything in their power to keep you out of court.
There are lawyers that will push you into a long drawn out and expensive process. This is something that you need to make sure you ask about at the beginning. A good initial question is how many of that lawyer’s cases go to trial.
Find out what the firm’s philosophy is. Ask the attorney in your first meeting what they believe is the best approach to the process of getting divorced. Let them answer that question without you telling them you would prefer not to go to trial. Usually when you sit down with a Seattle family law attorney you can figure out pretty quickly if they want to drag this out. Of course, if your case needs to go to trial, our Seattle family lawyers are here to help.
Who Will I be Interacting with at Your Firm?
At Seattle Divorce Services, your Seattle family lawyer should be your primary point of contact. We do have a paralegal you can talk to when your attorney is unavailable, and who may contact you at times about specific tasks, but your lawyer is managing the case and needs to communicate with you directly about most issues that may come up.
We believe that a lawyer who leaves most tasks to a paralegal is a lawyer who is not on top of the case. Doing our job well means staying on top of the case at every step.
Questions to Ask Your Seattle Family Law Attorney
One very important thing when hiring an attorney is deciding whether they are a good fit for you. Every attorney is different and every client is different. No matter how good the attorney is, they may or may not be a good fit for you. We want you to feel comfortable with us, so we encourage you to ask us some of these questions — or any other law firm you select.
The following questions can help you figure out if your attorney’s goals and perspectives line up well with yours.
How would you describe your job as a divorce lawyer?
This question is to get an overview of how the lawyer likes to work. Some see their job as fairly independent from the client, i.e. getting what they see as being the best deal they can for you, while others see their job as working with you to help you achieve your goals.
You then have to ask yourself how involved you want to be in the divorce process – do you just want to turn the attorney loose to do what they can for you, or do you want to be part of the team?
Some family law attorneys see themselves as problem solvers, while others see themselves as fighters. Would you prefer an attorney who is very aggressive and thinks first in terms of going into court, or do you prefer an attorney who thinks first in terms of negotiation and saves court for those times when negotiation fails to produce agreement?
What is your process for handling a divorce?
It is a good idea to have an idea of how your attorney works. Do they have a specific process they like to follow, or is it more fluid depending on the nature of the case? Your own personality may incline you to be more comfortable with one approach or the other.
Also, listen for how much their process is designed around working with you or is largely independent from you. How do you feel about their style?
What is my role in the divorce process?
This question further explores how much the family attorney will be working with you and how much you will be involved in the case. Some people prefer to sit back and let their Seattle family law lawyer make most of the decisions, while other people like to be involved at every step. It is very good to know what to expect before you get started.
Who is your ideal client?
This is to see who your attorney is most comfortable working with, which will tell you a lot about how good a fit you may be with that attorney.
If the family law attorney says something like “anyone who can pay the bill”, then I would suggest that the attorney has never thought about who they are a good fit for. I would also suggest that such an attorney may be less focused on you as an individual client.
If the attorney does have a good idea as to the type of client they work best with, ask yourself very honestly whether you are that type of person or whether you might work better with a different attorney who prefers someone more like you.
How would you define a “good” settlement?
Does the attorney focus on objective standards based on their experience, or do they focus on your goals?
Some Seattle family law attorneys will look primarily at the immediate outcome (it is good if I can get you $X), while others will look at a broader picture (it is good if it allows you to feel secure about your future, live where you want, pursue a career, etc.).
We personally prefer the approach that looks at the broader picture, as it takes into consideration more factors about you and your future, as opposed to the generic client. We believe that the settlement that is right for Client A may not be right for Client B if it does not fit their lifestyle, hopes for the future, or unique circumstances.
What is your idea of a good parenting plan?
This is a good question if you have children. An important thing to watch for in the answer is whether it focuses on you, on your children, or on the whole family.
We believe that the best parenting plans focus on the whole family, as the children will benefit the most when they have the best possible relationship with both parents, and the parents are most able and prepared to co-parent in the most cooperative way they can.
A Seattle family law firm who only focuses on you and your time with the children may be more likely to set you up for an increased level of conflict with the other parent for years to come, which will leave everyone involved miserable.
Call Seattle Divorce Services Today to Meet with an Experienced and Compassionate Seattle Family Law Attorney
If you are looking for a firm that is competent in all areas of the law mentioned above, a firm who holds to the highest ethical standards, and who cares deeply for your needs and concerns, then please give us a call. We believe you need to know who will be working for you and if we are the right fit for you. From experience, we believe that no firm will serve you better. But we’ll let you be the judge of that.
To schedule an appointment, our Seattle family law attorneys can be reached through our contact form, or you can call us at 206-784-3049. We look forward to helping you move into the next stage of your life.