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Top 5 Tips on hiring a family law attorney

Top 5 tips from Attorney Grant Toeppen when considering legal counsel –

  1. What to ask – Top 5 questions to ask a family law attorney:
    1. Do you charge a flat rate or do you charge an hourly rate?
    2. Do you see this case being handled by a settlement agreement or litigation
    3. Will you perform all work on my case in-house?
    4. What complications do you see arising in my case?
    5. How available will you be to answer my calls and e-mails?

  2. Where to go – The first thing you should do when hiring ANY attorney is to go to the California State Bar’s website and use the attorney search function. This will allow you to know if the attorney has ever been disciplined by the State Bar. Afterwards, I recommend meeting at least three family law attorneys and choosing one who you believe you can work well with. Family law cases can often take years to resolve and you want to ensure that you and your attorney will have a good long-term relationship. If possible, try to hire a family law legal specialist. Family law legal specialization is only offered through the State Bar after passing a rigorous examination that requires a level of knowledge and experience above and beyond what most attorneys can offer.
  3. Wills & Trusts – The best time to discuss wills and trusts is now if you have not already. If you already have a will, trust, or other estate plan in place, you should speak with an attorney upon any of the following:
    • Divorce in the family
    • Death in the family
    • A new child born to the family
    • Someone in the family adopts
    • There is a significant change in the family’s assets (i.e. buying a new home, selling your home, inheriting a large sum of money, etc.)
    • If and when the federal estate tax threshold changes
    • If and when you wish to amend or revoke your estate plan
  4. Benefits of a lawyer – The benefits of hiring a good family law attorney are literally immeasurable. Unfortunately, many judges tend to give more credence to what attorneys say than what non-attorneys say in court. Having an attorney represent you can make a big difference in the outcome of custody battles, guardianship proceedings, and more. Experienced family law attorneys can also draft prenuptial agreements, postnuptual agreements, and many other agreements that resolve disputes without ever having to go to court. A good family law attorney will save you time, money, and stress.
  5. Consultation – The best way to make the most of your consultation with your lawyer is to come prepared. Ask the attorney before coming in what documents he/she would like to review and make sure to bring them. Fill out any questionnaires the attorney may provide before going in. Start with saying what you want and then allow the attorney to ask the relevant questions- many clients start from the beginning and waste their consultation time by going into details that may be personally relevant, but are not relevant as far as the law is concerned. Basically, come prepared and let the attorney take the lead in the consultation.

About Grant Toeppen

Grant is a Walnut Creek based attorney who serves families, individuals, businesses, and organizations throughout California. His philosophy towards the practice of law is accessibility- that everyone has the right to important legal services. To that end, he is constantly striving to think of new and innovative ways to provide legal services while running a business. Grant is available for advice on issues regarding household employees and can be reached on (925) 315-7063