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How to Choose the Right Family Law Attorney for Your Case in Oakbrook Terrace, IL

A woman lies on a table and does not want to sign a divorce document. How to Choose the Right Family law Attorney

Knowing how to choose the right family law attorney in Oakbrook Terrace, IL, can have an effect on the outcome of your case. To get started, think about your legal needs. Common family law cases involve contested divorce, uncontested divorce, child custody, and asset division. During the initial consultation, assess your compatibility with attorneys in areas such as communication, expertise, comfort level, and legal fees.

A woman lies on a table and does not want to sign a divorce document. How to Choose the Right Family law Attorney

Having the right attorney can make a world of difference. Call (630) 538-5331 to schedule a free consultation with Erlich Law Office. Attorney Denise Erlich is committed to resolving cases outside of court to minimize conflict and stress, but she is willing to fight at trial if necessary.

Understanding Your Needs

Identify your needs so you can work with an attorney capable of advocating for them. Family law issues vary quite a bit. Some situations are relatively simple, while others are more complex.

When you assess your needs, think about whether you prefer an approach with less conflict or whether conflict might be inevitable. For instance, contested and uncontested divorces are different. A lawyer who is at ease handling both types of divorces could work well with people who need help with either type. However, if you want an uncontested divorce, you might not be better off with an attorney who prefers litigation. Here are some tips to help you understand your needs:

List the Issues

Common issues in family law include divorce, child custody or visitation, child support, alimony, property and asset division, and domestic violence and protective orders.

Determine Your Priorities

People often have priorities such as getting sole or joint custody of their children or generous visitation rights. If you are dealing with domestic violence from an abusive spouse, you might focus on safety above all else.

For many people, financial stability is a worry. Will you be able to support yourself after the divorce? In DuPage County, the median income is $107,035. After a divorce, people might be living on half as much money as they used to and have more expenses.

Think about where you will live, and draw up a budget to get insight into your financial picture. If finances will be an issue, seeking spousal support might be one of your priorities.

One common priority is keeping a divorce as conflict-free as possible, especially if children are involved. Think about your tolerance for conflict to achieve the priorities you identify. If both you and your spouse want a conflict-free divorce, then an uncontested divorce lawyer with a deep background in mediation and collaborative law could be helpful.

Consider the Big Picture

How do your immediate needs fit with your long-term goals? For example, many parents want a positive co-parenting relationship with their ex. Thinking about long-term goals helps you with your approach to short-term needs. For a positive co-parenting relationship, you might want a lawyer capable of a collaborative approach to custody negotiations.

Assess Your Logistical Needs

Practicalities factor into how to choose the right family law attorney. How often do you want the attorney to communicate with you? Do you want to meet often in person in Oakbrook Terrace, IL? If so, the closer the attorney’s office to your home or workplace, the better.

Evaluating Attorney Experience

There are many ways to evaluate attorney experience. Use questions to get a good grasp on the attorney’s capabilities and communication style.

Ask Questions

Make a list of specific questions and concerns to discuss. Possibilities:

  • How will you handle my case?
  • What is your approach to resolving conflicts?
  • What are the potential outcomes of my case?
  • How have you handled similar cases?
  • What issues do you see in my case?
  • What does the timeline of my case look like?

Even more specific questions depend on the issues in your case. Many people see attorneys when they are in pre-divorce thinking stages. They know they want a divorce, but are not sure how to go about it and what the issues would be. One question to ask could be about how to file for an uncontested divorce. Another could be, “Given the particulars of my situation, do you see uncontested or contested divorce as more likely?” Meanwhile, a question about hidden assets could be appropriate for people who suspect their spouse is keeping financial secrets.

With child custody, you may want to ask attorneys, “What does your guide to an Illinois parenting plan prioritize?” Another question could be about relocation if you hope to move with the children.

Watch for Red Flags

Attorneys cannot make guarantees such as, “I will get you custody.” This is a red flag as you learn how to choose the right family law attorney. For one thing, many variables such as the evidence, other party’s actions, and judge’s perspective go into each case. It is impossible to guarantee an outcome. Also, an attorney who makes promises is violating ethical rules and perhaps creating false expectations for clients.

Other red flags include high-pressure tactics, for example, pushing you to decide right away when you deserve time to consider the options. Another red flag is when the attorney does not take the time to understand your case or concerns. This signals the attorney is not interested in getting you the best possible outcome.

A lack of explanation is another reason to avoid an attorney. If an attorney does not or cannot explain why he or she would do XYZ in your case, this shows an inability to articulate thoughts, indecisiveness, or a lack of coherence.

A similar principle applies to the answers to your questions. For instance, if one of your questions relates to marital settlement agreements vs. divorce decree, the lawyer’s reply should make sense. Attorneys should be able to communicate with their clients in understandable language, no jargon necessary.

Evaluate the Attorney’s Local Knowledge of Oakbrook Terrace, IL, and Surrounding Areas

Local knowledge is an advantage. Someone who knows the courts in the area and the judges presiding over them has an advantage over someone who does not. These connections and established relationships go a long way. So do links to local mediators, child psychologists, and other professionals.

Check Credentials and Certifications

Professional affiliations and certifications can show a lot about an attorney. For instance, some family law attorneys are also certified mediators and have training to be a guardian ad litem. Some also work as arbitrators.

Arbitration is a dispute-resolution approach with the arbitrator as a neutral third party. It differs from mediation in several ways, but both can help the parties avoid stressful court battles. The two most notable differences are that the arbitrator makes a judgment, while in mediation, the parties make an agreement that the court needs to approve. An attorney with these credentials shows a commitment to alternative dispute resolution that avoids the strain of court litigation.

Another thing to review is the attorney’s disciplinary record. The Illinois Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission can reveal any complaints or disciplinary actions.

Ask About Focus

Balance is a factor in how to choose the right family law attorney. High demand can signal a good lawyer, but ask how heavy the attorney’s caseload is and how much attention he or she can give your case.

Speak With Multiple Candidates

Avoid committing right away to the first lawyer with which you speak. Speak with at least two, preferably at least three, attorneys. “Shopping around” helps you get a sense of what a compatible lawyer’s professionalism and communication style should be like. Also, compare online reviews from past clients.

Considering Fees and Costs

Always ask the attorneys you are considering about their fees and costs. Their answers should be clear and transparent.

An attorney may charge a retainer, which is an upfront fee that gets you his or her services. It is a deposit against which future work is billed. A more complex case requiring more work likely will have a higher retainer.

Family law attorneys often work on an hourly rate for some matters. Some prefer clients to pay another retainer if the original retainer is depleted, while others may send regular bills of hourly work.

Flat fees are more common in simple, straightforward cases. Simple uncontested divorces and prenuptial agreements are two examples.

Discuss other costs likely to be involved in your case. They may include court filing fees, mediation expenses, expert witness fees, and administrative fees.

You can also ask about unbundled services. For instance, if some aspects of your case are simple, the attorney might be able to handle these parts at a lower cost.

Denise Erlich focuses on divorce, family law matters, and collaborative law. She is a certified mediator and trained guardian ad litem and serves as an arbitrator. While her focus is on resolving matters out of court, she will fight for clients in court if necessary. Contact us today at Erlich Law Office.

Uncontested divorce lawyer Denise Erlich is passionate about helping divorcing couples in the greater Chicagoland area transition to their new life as seamlessly as possible. Ms. Erlich patiently guides her clients through every step of the divorce process and provides clients with candid advice about their case and legal options, so they can make informed decisions about their future.

Years of Experience: More than 20 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: Illinois State Bar Association U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois
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