Caralee Caldwell, mother of three, is a revolutionary family law solicitor and principal at leading family law practice, Caldwell Family Lawyers. She has gone through the life-changing experience of divorce herself. Yet, she moved on, creating a better life for herself and her children. Now she is helping her clients achieve the same through her law practice and soon to be released book. With her inspirational legal and communication skills, Caralee advocates for reducing conflict, remaining amicable and out of court.
If you identify that you need a family lawyer, the next question is which one do you choose? This can be daunting, as it is very possible that you may not have retained a lawyer before and you are having to make important decisions on your own, whilst emotions are running high and you have lots of separation issues to deal with.
To help you here are my tips on how you should choose the right family lawyer for you:
How to know which family lawyer to choose
Choose an Exclusive Family Lawyer
There are many lawyers around but they don’t all practice family law. I recommend looking for a lawyer who exclusively practices family law. Family law is a huge area of law that is ever evolving; it takes an expert to support you properly on your family law journey.
Get a family lawyer referral
If you have been lucky enough to have a recommendation from family and friend that is a great foot to start on. If not, then you can turn to Google and you can get a good feel for the firm and their values from their website. Alternatively, you can ask on single mum groups, such as the Single Mum Vine, to see if anyone has experienced the services of a good lawyer in your area.
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Interview Your Lawyer
You are entitled to interview a few lawyers before you retain one. This will give you a good idea of who you would like to work with. Be prepared with your list of questions prior to each interview and take your time to get a ‘feel’ for how they work.
Align Your Values
Different lawyers have different styles. Some family lawyers are all about putting the gloves on and getting in the Court room. Other lawyers take a more collaborative approach, where they try really hard to resolve the matter for you outside of Court. Have a think about your values and discern whether a potential lawyer’s values are the same as yours.
Go with your gut instinct
No matter how many years of experience a lawyer has, no matter what awards and plaques are displayed on the walls of their office, if you are not comfortable with the lawyer, that is not the lawyer for you.
Ensure You Feel Valued and Listened To
It is really important that your lawyer listens to you and allows you time to process the advice they give you. When you are speaking with your lawyer you should not feel judged or talked down to, you are their client and deserve respect.
Be Ok with A Lawyer That Is Straight Up
The advice you receive about your matter might not be what you want to hear, but it is your lawyer’s job to tell you of the risks. A good lawyer will offer strategies and advice on how to combat potential negative outcomes.
Avoid Lawyer’s That Promise You Outcomes
Lawyers do not come equipped with crystal balls to tell you the future of what outcome you will receive or what a Judge might order in your matter. So be aware of any lawyers who make you large promises.
Ask About Fee’s
Different law practices have different ways of billing. Some offer fixed fee services, traditional billing per the hour or some also offer deferred payment arrangements. Find a lawyer that has flexible solutions that will fit your needs.
Get Independent Legal Advice
You should choose your representation independent of your ex-partner. It is not up to your ex-partner to guide you to a preferred lawyer; nor is it up to them tell you that you do not need one. This is a very common theme and if this is happening to you, this is disempowering and it is a form of control, which is a form of domestic violence.
Be Empowered with Clarity
Because the family law process is often unfamiliar and intimidating, a choose a family lawyer that will put you at ease by helping you understand what to expect. A good sign is if you leave a consultation with a prospective lawyer feeling heard, informed, as well as having clarity and feeling empowered.