10 Tips for Finding a Family and Divorce Law Attorney Near You
There are plenty of ethical and trustworthy family and divorce attorneys within South Africa, but linking with such professionals becomes a challenge when you simply don’t know where to turn. It is important to understand that by the time someone is seeking legal assistance in the field of family or divorce law, they have probably already undergone a major life change or dealt with a crisis. It is also possible that the situation is still escalating and causing the client distress. For this reason, some clients cannot see through their emotional turmoil and simply settle for the first attorney they find. While it is never wise to drag out your search for good legal representation, it is important that you feel comfortable with the attorney upon whom you decide.
Knowing where to begin in this search is another challenge. Some people may ask family and friends to recommend a cut-throat professional who will deal with the matter swiftly, but there is always more nuance to most cases that should be considered. Ideally, the family and divorce law attorney you select must keep up with changes in the law and display competence in practice. Here, we explore ten tips to help clients narrow their search while trying to find professional legal representation near them.
1. Start Your Search Early
It is essential that as soon as you foresee a legal battle ahead, you start looking for an attorney to assist you. Because finding the right help in itself is a stressful process, you don’t want to leave it until it is too late. Even if you do not need legal counsel at present, it still helps to have a professional on standby to assist you when the time comes. Some clients also seek an attorney early to advise them on their next best step right from the start, which will streamline the proceedings later on.
2. Find Someone Accessible
Accessibility includes a few factors beyond just how close you are to your attorney’s physical location. While most attorneys are busy, it is still vital that you find a professional who will give your case the attention it needs – which means that they return communication and set up appointments promptly when you need to see them. This accessibility means that no matter what changes in your current situation, you can rely on their support throughout the process.
3. Look at Their Experience
Legal representation is not always cheap, and that means you need value for money when it comes to the expertise your attorney offers. Before you commit to partnering with any firm, first find out about similar past cases they might have dealt with, their success rate in positive outcomes for such cases, and how their experience can contribute to your case.
4. What Do They Specialise In?
Your case is unique, but it also falls within the scope of certain types of law. Divorce and family law are very different from criminal law, for example. Firms that specialise in several types of law might not provide you with the keen expertise you are seeking. It is therefore imperative that you opt to partner with a professional that specialises in law pertaining to your case and its implications.
5. Someone Thorough and Knowledgeable
When first meeting with a prospective attorney, pay attention to how responsive they are to what you tell them and whether or not they seem knowledgeable about your case. If you are unsure, feel free to ask questions about how they would go about handling your case and how much in-depth support you can expect. It is far better to settle on a slower, detail-oriented attorney than someone who does not give every case the consideration it requires.
6. Personal Compatibility
It is possible to find an experienced lawyer who simply isn’t compatible with you as a person. Upon first meeting an attorney, you will need to ask yourself if you feel comfortable around them and whether you sense they are trustworthy. Working with someone whom you feel does not have your best interests at heart is frustrating and will only serve to increase your distress during the process. As a client, it is vital you feel respected and treated with empathy at all times.
7. Someone Who Listens Well
Part of what makes cases pertaining to divorce and family law so taxing is that the parties involved often do not feel heard or understood. It is not enough that your attorney hears what you say, you need to know that they are actively listening to you and that they are, ultimately, on your side. This does not mean that they will refrain from providing honest feedback, only that when they do advise you, it is done with your best interests in mind.
8. Choose an Attorney, Not a Firm
In the grand scheme of things, you will partner with a firm – but it is your relationship with an individual law partner at this firm that matters. This means that it is not always wisest to judge a firm based on their reputation (positive or negative), without first speaking to one of their attorneys. Your relationship with your attorney is crucial because it involves two-way trust and, most importantly, highly confidential information.
9. It’s Not All About Legal Fees
Divorce and cases in family law can quickly become expensive, especially when these proceedings are dragged to court for long periods of time. Sometimes, unfortunately, the costs are simply unavoidable. Attorney fees are also a contributing factor in how clients choose legal representation, but fees are not always an indication of the competence and dedication you will receive as a client. In the end, it is better to make room in your budget for the best possible representation you can afford.
10. Watch Out for Red Flags
There are some warning signs for which to watch out, and these can include poor communication or an attorney seeming inattentive or distracted. An attorney who displays unprofessional behaviour such as discussing other confidential cases with you, or someone disorganised with poor record-keeping skills, should be avoided.
Here at Riëtte Oosthuizen Attorneys, we understand that matters in divorce and family law involve more than just litigation. They require compassion, support, and experience. With us, you can be sure that you are receiving legal representation from a dedicated professional who is committed to excellence and fantastic client service.
For more information on how we can help you, take that important first step and contact us today.