Getting a divorce can be difficult, time-consuming, and emotionally exhausting. When you partner with a Tampa divorce family law firm, you need to make sure you pick the right legal representative—after all, your lawyer is supposed to make things easier for you during this trying time, not more difficult. To that end, be sure to consider five key things before hiring any family divorce lawyer in Tampa, Florida.
How to Choose the Right Divorce Attorney in Tampa Florida
With so many different family law attorneys to choose from in Tampa, you may not know which one you should hire. To choose the perfect divorce attorney for your upcoming case, complete each of these steps before signing on the dotted line.
Find a Firm with Experience
First, always hire a law firm with extensive experience in your case area. In this instance, you should hire a specific family law or divorce attorney in Tampa, Florida, not a more generalized attorney whose focus may be in other areas of the law, such as personal injury.
Why? The more experience a lawyer has in your case’s subject matter, the better the assistance they can provide. An experienced, well-reputed law firm:
- Will know exactly what to do for your case
- Will be able to provide sound legal counsel regarding the best choices for you and your family
- Will be able to formulate an effective defense or prosecuting case for your needs
You’re looking for a lawyer because you want an expert. Don’t settle for a law firm that doesn’t have the experience or case focus you need.
Check the Reviews
Next, head online or talk to your peers and family members about potential legal representatives they might recommend. You should always check a Florida divorce lawyer’s reviews and reputation before hiring them.
Check out resources like Google, Yelp, or Avvo to see what a law firm has done for its previous clients. If those past clients are happy and satisfied, the odds are good that lawyer will be able to provide you with stellar service as well.
Be Wary of the “Free” Consultation
Practically every good Tampa divorce family law firm will charge a small fee for meeting with new or prospective. This is because the lawyer’s time is both limited and valuable. Meeting with a new or prospective client takes time that could otherwise be used for working on an existing matter. A firm that holds its time with such little value that it routinely gives it away is a message that is worth considering.
The consultation is a chance for you to ask the attorney important questions and to determine whether they are right for your needs. It is worth the small consultation fee to spend an hour with an attorney discussing your specific needs in detail.
That is not to say that all free or discounted consultations are bad. A firm may offer a free or discounted consultation for a variety of professional reasons. If the consultation is free simply to get potential customers through the door, perhaps you should consider a different firm. It could be a sign that the lawyer doesn’t have faith in their abilities and won’t be able to represent you effectively and successfully.
Explore the Fee Policy
Of course, you’ll need to consider fees and costs for legal representation. Many attorneys, such as in personal injury, operate on a contingency fee basis, meaning they only charge you money if they win damages or compensation from your case. Family law attorneys are prohibited by the Rules of the Florida Bar from representation on a contingency fee basis. Family law attorneys normally operate on a billable hour basis, where the client pays for the time the attorney spends on their case.
Fee policies may vary from firm to firm. It is important to explore and understand a law firm’s fee and billing policy before signing a contract with them. That way, you’ll be well prepared for any payments you need to make and can determine whether a given Tampa family law lawyer is a good choice given your finances.
Make Sure the Firm is Well-Staffed
Small law firms can provide strong, personalized service, but they can also take on too many clients for comfort. In your meeting with a Tampa divorce lawyer, make sure that the lawyer you meet with will be in charge of your case. Ensure that your case won’t be handed off. Make sure the attorney has adequate paralegals and legal assistants to manage your case.
How to Prepare for an Initial Consultation with a Divorce Attorney
Whether your consultation is free or paid, even if discounted, you should prepare for this initial meeting by:
- Dressing professionally and appropriately. This will set a good tone for your relationship with the attorney going forward
- Gathering important information about your case so you can give your attorney everything they need to get started
- Taking a notebook so you can write notes to yourself about the lawyer if you plan to interview several attorneys before settling on one
What Questions Should I Ask a Divorce Attorney?
During your divorce attorney’s initial consultation, be sure to ask insightful and informative questions that tell you a lot about the attorney and what exactly they offer. Some good questions include:
- Have you ever handled a divorce or family law case similar to mine and, if so, what was the outcome?
- What do you think about the details of my case?
- Who will handle my case details? Will it be you, or will it be someone else in your law firm/office?
- What is the initial retainer fee?
- How often will we communicate about my case, and how do you usually communicate with your clients (e.g., email, phone, etc.)?
- Do you specialize in divorces, or are divorce cases just a part of your practice?
Lastly, ask a prospective legal representative what potential outcomes they may be able to secure for your case. This is a trick question on your part – you want the attorney to give a confident, yet not too confident, answer.
Be very concerned if an attorney says they can guarantee a specific award or outcome. No lawyer, no matter their skill or expertise, can guarantee a specific legal outcome. If they say otherwise, they may be trying to take you on as a client without accurately explaining your situation or planning to take your case seriously.
Contact Hunter Law Today
Overall, these tips will help you hire the right family divorce lawyer in Tampa, Florida for your needs. That’s more crucial than ever—with recent changes to Florida family law, you need a lawyer who will fight for you effectively and who can explain how your case might evolve thanks to those legal shifts.
At Hunter Law, we’re well-equipped and ready to assist with any upcoming divorce or family law case you may face, including divorce, paternity, child support cases, alimony cases, and more. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and for more information.