Tips for Finding a Family Attorney
Hiring an attorney can be expensive. Depending on the circumstances, it can also be stressful. Anyone who is or has been involved in a divorce and/or child custody case can confirm this. This is definitely the time when you need an objective advocate and if you cannot afford one, there are ways for you to obtain the services of a family attorney.
If your spouse is financially much more secure, you may be able to get a court to order your spouse to pay all or a portion of your legal fees. If this is the case, mention this to any lawyers you contact. If this is not the case, there are options available for obtaining family attorneys at a free or greatly reduced rate.
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One of the first things you should do is to call your state bar association. Look in your phone book or do an online search. Bar associations are a wealth of information about family lawyers or programs that can provide services at a free or greatly reduced rate. If they don’t have specific information that can help you, they can direct you to the resources that can help. They may even have local private programs that can provide advice from a family attorney. Some state or local bar associations have specific programs wherein lawyers have agrees to devote a certain amount of time to representation.
Another source of information is your local legal aid office. Most cities and counties have one and their contact information can be found in the phone book or with a simple online search. They may even have a website that provides the information you need to find family lawyers who volunteer their time. Since legal aid is for the assistance of low-income clients, you may have to apply.
If you are unable to find assistance through state and local sources, you can search for non-profit legal services networks that are funded through Federal Grants. These offices provide a wide range of Civil Law services through their staff of experienced attorneys and paralegals. They can help with divorce and custody cases and give you advice on related matters such as property settlements, asset allocation etc.
Another option for obtaining the services of a family attorney is through you local law school. Many of these schools run legal clinics where you can obtain assistance from law students under the supervision of experienced family attorneys and law professors.
Depending on where you live, there may be privately funded non-profits in your area that provide specific legal services to a particular population. They may specialize in immigration or landlord tenant law or representing seniors. If in addition to being unable to afford an attorney, if you are disabled, battered, elderly etc, mention this to EVERY agency you speak to. You may be eligible for a family attorney for which you might not otherwise qualify. If an agency cannot help directly, they may be able to coordinate getting you a family lawyer.