For those of us who work in South Carolina Family Courts, we know that no divorce or custody case is ever the same as the last. The facts and people involved in each case are always very different. While there may be similarities in how the family found themselves involved in a family court case, every person approaches the situation differently. The same holds true for how family court attorneys work with their clients and the strategies they employ while handling their cases. Understanding this will help you in deciding which family court lawyer is the "right" one for your case.
Your Choice Will Define Your Case Experience
Choosing a family court lawyer is one of the most important decision you'll make in your case. Going through any case in family court can be an emotional process. Your attorney is the person you will discuss the intimate details of your life's problems which led to the case, so you need this person to be someone you can relate to and someone you can trust. Remember, simply because your friend or co-worker recommends an attorney doesn't mean that attorney should represent you.
What is the Focus of Your Case?
Are you getting divorced? Do you have children? Is this a post-divorce or enforcement issue for an Order which is already in place? Do you want to appeal a decision which has already been handed down by a trial judge? What is your current financial situation? Are they any international issues to contend with in your case (property, financial, or custody/visitation)?
The answers to these questions will help determine the "focus" of your case. If you have a complicated custody matter, then you need an attorney who has experience and a solid reputation in litigating custody matters. If your case involves the division of a small business or lots of monetary assets which need to be divided, you need an attorney who has a strong business or accounting background and understands the "numbers" of the case. When you begin searching for attorneys to interview, knowing the focus of your case will help narrow your search considerably.
Does the Attorney Practice Only Family Law?
When you begin interviewing attorneys to take your case, ask each attorney what percentage of their practice is devoted to family law. Family Court is a very special court in South Carolina and it has its own rules and procedures that can be very different from other types of South Carolina courts. You don't want an attorney who only spends 20% of his time in family court. You want an attorney who practices exclusively in the family court system for many years, if possible. This person will know the ins and outs of the family court and will have developed a good working relationship with all other individuals connected with the family court. His credibility and reputation will only help you as you prepare your case with him on your side.
What is Your Current Financial Status?
If you are struggling to make ends meet, this may necessarily dictate which attorney you're able to hire to represent you. However, even if money is tight for you, explore all options available to you to allow you to hire the best attorney possible. If you are getting divorced and know that once the assets are divided, you will be entitled to a sizeable portion of the assets, you may want to explore divorce litigation funding. This funding is similar to asking a bank for a loan, but the "collateral" is the property and assets which be divided later. It allows you to have access to funds to pay your attorney's retainer, costs, and on-going fees as an advance on funds you'll receive later.
If financing commercially isn't an option for you, reach out to family or friends. There may be someone who has more resources than you do, who will lend you the money to get through the case because they want what is best for you. You might be able to set up a long-term payment plan with no interest payments in situations like this.
The important thing to remember is that most family court attorneys are paid hourly from a trust retainer you pay them to start working on your case. Once the retainer runs out, you're expected to "replenish" it (or pay it again). You must keep this in mind when asking to borrow money to hire your attorney, as you will likely need to ask for more money at some point down the road until the case is over.
The Stevens Firm, P.A. - Family Law Center has provided exceptional legal counsel and support to families throughout South Carolina for over two decades, handling all matters of family law, such as child custody, child support, and divorce. We are well-equipped to handle all divorce and family law matters, no matter your circumstances. Contact us at (864) 598-9172 or by clicking here to schedule an initial consultation.