Should I Hire a Family Law Attorney in Arizona?

hire a family law attorney in arizonaI am often asked by prospective clients whether I think they should hire a family law attorney in Arizona.  It’s my profession so I will admit I am a little biased, but the answer I give, like most answers in the law, is that it depends.  I believe there are some legal matters that individuals are able to handle without the assistance of counsel; however, an attorney is recommended for most family law matters.  An example of a case where you might be able to avoid the cost of counsel is an uncontested divorce following a short marriage with no children and little in the way of assets.

First, a family law attorney can help mediate disputes between you and your spouse.  Family law matters are often contentious and having a mediator can often lead to compromises that wouldn’t otherwise happen.  Second, a family law attorney will know the law.  While most subjects can be researched on the internet, having someone on your side that understands family law and procedure will increase your chances of getting a better result in court.  A family law can help obtain your “fair share” of the community property, assets and or time with your children.

When is it a good idea to hire a family law attorney?

While we believe it’s always a good idea to have a family law attorney represent you, there are some circumstances where it’s especially important.  You should hire a lawyer if you and the other party cannot agree on anything, if children are involved, if your case involves complicated circumstances such as owning a business together, or if your case presents a unique legal issue.

Your attorney can remain objective during contentious issues when emotions run high.  With any case, and especially with a family law case, there is a ton of paperwork.  Your family law attorney will complete the necessary paperwork on your behalf, ensuring it is complete and accurate.  The law is often unforgiving so having a competent attorney will help avoid costly mistakes as well.

What are Some Mistakes When Hiring a Family Law Attorney?

Some common mistakes include hiring a lawyer who does not specialize in family law.  If your attorney handles several different practice areas it’s unlikely he or she will be an expert at family law.  Probably the biggest complaint I hear from clients about other attorneys is a lack of communication.  It’s important to find an attorney who has the time and resources to not only take your case, but keep you regularly updated throughout the process.  Your attorney should have experience handling the specific issues that will arise in your case.  For example, if you have a case involving a QDRO (qualified domestic relations order), you’ll want to verify your attorney has the requisite experience as many family law attorneys do not.

Another quality to search for is diligence.  You want a family law attorney that will expediently file paperwork and will be prepared for court hearings.  This will aid you in completing the process expeditiously and without delay.  Find out how expensive it is to get a divorce in Arizona.

What if I can’t afford an Arizona family law attorney?

It is common to hear the line in a courtroom drama, “If you can’t afford a lawyer, one will be provided to you.”  While this may be true for a criminal case, the family court system does not provide such a benefit.  However, those with limited finances have a few options.  First, the attorney may take your case on a discounted basis or may allow you to make payments over time.  In some cases, the opposing party will pay your attorneys’ fees.  If you simply cannot afford to pay the cost of representation, there are a number of legal organizations that offer low cost legal support to those with family law matters.