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Top Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Family Law Attorney

  • What percentage of your practice is devoted to family law?

Family law matters are often emotionally charged and complicated. It’s essential to find a lawyer specializing in divorce, custody, visitation, property division, and prenuptial agreements. Our firm’s practice is entirely devoted to family law.

  • How long have you practiced family law?

Our firm understands that with experience comes wisdom, which is why we offer decades of combined knowledge and experience in divorce and family law. Our firm’s founder, Debra Schoenberg, has over 30 years of experience and expertise in family law, including complex matters. The firm’s associate attorneys bring decades of experience as well.

  • What kind of experience does your firm have with my type of case? How many divorce cases have you handled?

All of our attorneys are accomplished and well-versed in the nuances of California family law, which enables our firm to handle many family law cases that range from complex financial issues and extensive marital estates to high-conflict custody matters.

  • Are you familiar with local family court judges?

Our firm understands that clients want to be sure their attorneys know the local judges and the directions they tend to rule. That is why our attorneys maintain professional relationships with family court judges to secure the best outcome possible. Our law firm serves the entire Bay Area, including San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Jose, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties.

  • Are you a Certified Family Law Specialist by the State Bar of California?

The State Bar certifies attorneys as specialists who have gone beyond the standard licensing requirements. The State Bar Legal Specialization program provides a method for attorneys to earn the designation of certified specialists in particular areas of law, increasing public protection and encouraging attorney competency. Debra Schoenberg is a Board-Certified Family Law Specialist by the State Bar of California due to her comprehensive experience in the specialty area of family law.

  • Are any of the attorneys at your firm members of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers?

The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) is a highly regarded organization that provides leadership and promotes professionalism and excellence in family law practice. As a leader in this profession, Debra Schoenberg was named a Fellow of AAML for her exceptional knowledge of family law and extensive experience.

  • Are you a Board-Certified Family Law Trial Specialist by The National Board of Trial Advocacy?

The National Board of Trial Advocacy (NBTA) is the most extensive national attorney specialty certification program, offering board certification in various practice areas. To qualify for board certification, lawyers must have extensive experience in their specialty and meet rigorous, objective quality standards. Long recognized as a leading family law attorney, Debra Schoenberg was named a Board-Certified Family Law Trial Specialist by the NBTA.

  • Do you believe it’s better to mediate and negotiate or go to trial?

Our attorneys are deeply committed to resolving cases outside of court when we can achieve a favorable outcome for our clients. While our attorneys are principally litigators, we seek to resolve all cases short of a contested trial. Our firm promotes the use of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), including mediation and other judicial or quasi-judicial settlement conferences.

  • Will I be kept informed of all developments in my case?

Your lawyer will promptly respond to emails, letters, and phone calls and communicate with you on all essential matters on a timely basis.  As your advocate, our attorneys are empowered to take all necessary steps to represent their client’s best interests. Once retained, the attorney is obligated to keep you informed of all developments in your case.

  • What have past clients said about the firm?

Our firm strives to provide excellent client service and experience. Our highly recognized attorneys have a stellar reputation, earning positive testimonials from past clients and high ratings from legal services such as AVVO. Our firm achieved a Superb (10.0) rating and is recognized as Best Lawyers by U.S. News and World Report.

  • What is the firm’s reputation among peers in the legal field?

Our attorneys are frequently recognized for their legal excellence by colleagues and peers. The law firm’s effectiveness and achievements have resulted in being named to the Recorder’s list of “Best Of” which is aimed at helping lawyers identify the finest legal products and service providers. As a result of extensive and confidential reviews by Bar members, our attorneys have frequently been named to the Super Lawyers list. The patented selection process includes independent research, peer nominations, and peer evaluations.

  • How does the firm handle the most challenging divorce cases?

The attorneys at our firm handle a client’s case with the foresight and attention to detail necessary to ensure that their unique circumstances are given proper consideration, that their marital and parental rights are protected, and that their marital estate is fairly divided. We will conduct discovery based on the needs of your case, and we will address the complex financial issues that may arise.

  • Will my case go to trial? Do you have trial experience?

Despite best efforts to settle your case, in some cases, your divorce may go to trial, and the judge will make important decisions that will seriously impact your future. Our attorneys will advise you through the mediation process, work toward a fair and equitable agreement, and, if litigation becomes necessary, aggressively represent you at trial, with compassion for you and your needs at the forefront of our minds.

  • Who is your typical client?

Our law firm routinely handles complex asset and high conflict custody cases on behalf of clients within the Bay Area with million-dollar incomes and multimillion-dollar marital estates. Many of our clients are professionals, entrepreneurs, and executives, or the spouses of high earners.

  • How are your clients billed for services?

While it is difficult to predict total case costs, our attorneys view themselves as creative problem solvers, seeking to have consistent and open communication with clients about financial matters throughout their case in an honest and mutually respectful fashion. When you become a client of the Schoenberg Family Law Group, P.C., you will be asked to pay a retainer that will vary in amount depending on the complexity of your case. As professional services are provided, or costs are incurred on your behalf, funds will be withdrawn from the retainer account. A statement of services will be forwarded to you each month to keep you fully informed as to the status of your account.

  • How do you handle child custody issues?

Our experienced attorneys have handled child custody matters related to divorces, legal separations, abuse prevention, and parentage actions. They have a successful track record in settling and litigating highly complex issues, such as custody evaluations, supervised visitations, paternity actions, parent relocation motions, and more.

  • What is the process of dividing marital assets?

As a community property state, California requires equal division of all marital assets. The court may equally divide property or award one item of property to one spouse and offset this award by giving the other spouse an equally valued property item. Since each estate differs, working with a law firm that can address the diverse points of law is essential. Our attorneys have a track record of helping clients establish priorities and secure their fair share of the estate, allowing them to emerge from the divorce in the most advantageous financial position.

  • How will I be kept informed of the progress of my case?

The attorneys at our firm view a client’s relationship as a partnership in pursuing their goals. Our team strives to maintain transparent and open attorney-client communications to achieve the best outcome and minimize the stress of divorce as much as possible.

  • How long will it take to get my divorce?

In California, you and your former spouse must go through a series of steps to obtain a divorce successfully. The mandatory waiting period for a divorce is six months plus one day. This waiting period begins when the Respondent is determined to have been given legal notice of the action for dissolution.

  • Do you know my spouse?

It is the strict policy of the firm only to meet, represent and advocate on behalf of one party to a divorce. Your attorney will not speak directly with your partner or spouse if counsel represents them.

  • Do you know my spouse’s attorney?

The attorneys in our firm may likely have had other cases in the past with your spouse’s attorney.  We maintain the highest level of professionalism when dealing with the opposing counsel in all cases.