Getting the Family Law Advice You Need Without Depleting Your Savings
Unless you’re fairly wealthy, securing the family law advice you need could deplete your savings account and put you in a major financial bind. So what do you do if you need legal representation or advice because you’re going through a divorce, facing a child custody case, or need to create a living will (a financial goal you should achieve by age 35)? Fortunately, there are a few options you can explore to secure the services you need without putting a huge dent in your wallet.
Research Public Interest Law Firms in Your Area
A public interest law firm is a private, for-profit law firm that’s distinguished from other private law firms because their primary mission is to assist under-represented people or causes rather than make money. Because of this, a public interest lawyer might take your case for a discounted fee or even on a pro-bono basis.
When choosing a public interest law firm, it’s important to choose one that specializes in family law. Ideally, you should try to find a lawyer who specializes in the specific area of family law you need assistance with. Typically, when lawyers specialize in a specific field of law, they know the ins and outs of it better than a lawyer who handles a wider variety or different types of cases. That’s why you wouldn’t choose a criminal law firm to represent you in a family law case.
Contact Your Nearest Civil Legal Aid Office
Most areas have civil legal aid offices to serve people in the community who may not be able to afford costly legal fees. The lawyers who work in legal aid offices often take cases on a pro-bono basis, which means you wouldn’t be required to pay anything for the lawyer to take your case. There are legal aid offices located in every state. For family law matters, you need to choose a civil legal aid office, not a criminal one.
Before contacting legal aid, you need to make sure you have the type of case that legal aid lawyers will take. Typically, these lawyers take on cases for people who are facing life-altering consequences, such as losing custody of their children or losing their homes.
Ask Other Family Lawyers In Your Area About Pro-Bono Available
Often, lawyers who work at private, for-profit firms that aren’t considered public interest law firms do pro-bono work as a way to give back to the community. However, instead of contacting them through legal aid, you would contact them through the law firm they are associated with.
Even though these lawyers usually only take on a certain amount of pro-bono work per year and they can be choosy about the cases they take, this is an avenue worth exploring because it can help you reduce the cost of your divorce or custody case. However, because they only help so many people, it’s important to explain your need for pro-bono services in detail and follow the lawyer’s application process exactly.
Ask About Payment Plans
When you hire a for-profit family lawyer from a public firm, you don’t usually have to pay all of your legal fees upfront. Lawyers understand that it’s difficult for people to come up with the money for legal fees so they offer payment plans to their clients.
Typically, when you use a payment plan, you’re required to pay a deposit upfront to secure the lawyer’s services. Then you make monthly, weekly, or bi-weekly payments — depending on your agreement — to cover the remaining costs of your legal fees.
If you decide to hire a public law firm and use a payment plan option, it’s extremely important that you shop around before agreeing to use a specific lawyer’s services.
To sum up, legal costs can vary greatly between law firms, and you want to make sure you’re getting the best possible representation for a cost you can afford.