Custody cases come with their complexities. Along the way, you will realize that a good lawyer plays a critical role in convincing the court to grant you the primary custodial rights.
It can be a stressful and tearful moment to part with your children that you have raised and formed tight bonds with. That is why you need to get a good lawyer to ensure the best chance of being granted primary custody of the child or children.
Now when faced with the tough task of picking the right lawyer, you will see, there are so many law firms and lawyers out there, you may be swayed by their marketing skills if you aren’t vigilant.
Not all attorneys are best for all situations.
Some are really good in the courtroom, able to navigate arguments on the fly, in the moment. They have a presence to them that lends credibility and a character that gives them command of the courtroom in a way.
Other lawyers are excellent outside of the courtroom, able to get agreements and concessions on paper and wrapped up before ever seeing the judge. These are my favorite kind of attorneys to work with on a tight budget as rates are normally (not always) cheaper than in-court hourly rates.
You need to do your homework to ensure that you are getting a reputable lawyer who is specialized in the field of child custody or family law.
The following are some of the steps or factors that you may want to put into consideration when choosing a good lawyer for family court custody:
- Conduct due diligence
- Seek advice from the court
- Check the area of jurisdiction
- Conduct interviews
- Choose your preferred lawyer
Conduct Due Diligence
You need to conduct an extensive background search of the lawyers that are within your area.
To start, you can feel out a few lawyers who are specialized in the field of child custody or family law, they will almost always agree to an initial visit or phone call, at no charge to you.
then narrow down the list to individual lawyers as you get to know their reputations and experiences in handling specific matters.
It is also invaluable to conduct more research on the law firms where these lawyers work.
If the lawyer or the law firm has an online presence, read ALL the reviews and feedback from different clients that they have worked for in the past, whether the clients were satisfied or not.
If you find many complaints about the law firm or individual attorney, that should be enough to move to the next lawyer.
Seek Advice From The Court
Some of the courts have a good network of reputable family lawyers that are well-specialized to handle cases regarding child custody. It may prove wise to seek the courts’ advice and perhaps you will be lucky enough to hire the best lawyer for your case.
Of course, courts can sometimes point you to a lawyer for selfish reasons, if they have a friendship with them, and may not reflect the ability of the attorney to handle your case well.
Another possible advantage of seeking a courts’ advice is that you may qualify to be served by an attorney on “pro bono”, or at little or no charge, if you are struggling financially and cannot afford the huge expenses that come with hiring the best attorney for your family court custody.
But don’t count on this option much. This is not common practice in family court like it is in criminal court, where the state is required to supply you with counsel if you have none (public defender).
Check the Area of Jurisdiction
The other thing that will play an important role in choosing a good lawyer for your custody case is the area of jurisdiction. That is the locality to which the lawyer is based.
It is good to pick a lawyer within your locality since he or she will be well-versed with the custody laws of that particular jurisdiction. they will likely know many of the judges and opposing counsel you might encounter, which can be insightful to your case.
It is also good to have a lawyer who is close to the courthouse, clerk’s office, and your home, since you will be frequenting the law office to sign papers, make payments, and discuss issues pretty regularly.
Ask for Recommendations
If you have a network of enlightened friends or family members, you may find a good referral or two from people who have gone through the process. Recommendations for a good lawyer for family court custody can truly be hit or miss though.
Their suggestions can go a long way in helping take the next step, just make sure to keep your options open. Don’t blindly hire a friend of a friend based on casual conversation, this is your future, your children’s wellbeing, and your hard earned money at stake here.
Ask friends who have been in a similar situation before, how they got the best lawyer to represent them in court, and perhaps to give you the list of their pros and cons.
At this point, you may have had a good number of lawyers that you have scheduled for an interview. It is not enough to just get recommendations.
You always need to have a physical meeting or phone call with each of the lawyers where possible to assess their competencies, their experiences, and how well you may work with them.
This is the crucial phase in the process of getting a good lawyer for a family custody case. It is the last step and after this, you are going to choose one attorney that best fits your needs.
With your list of potential lawyers, schedule a date with each one of them where you will meet and discuss issues about the custody case. By meeting each one of them, you will be able to point out the strengths and weaknesses of each and this will help you make a better decision.
An interview, therefore, seeks to point out the following issues:
- Experience of the lawyer or attorney in handling custody cases.
- The amount of assistants or paralegals in the firm to help on your case.
- Ability to relate to your views when discussing issues relating to your case.
- Their specific approach and outline to win your case.
- The lawyers’ charges and payment terms.
- Whether or not the lawyer can be contacted after hours or weekends.
- The lawyer’s negotiation and convincing skills in and out of court.
These are the crucial factors when determining whether to work with a lawyer or not. Regardless of their knowledge and grasp of the law, you must go beyond and find a lawyer that you can have a good working relationship with throughout the duration of your case.
After you interview all the lawyers that you researched, you can narrow down your list and do some follow up questions with your favorites.
Finally, you’ll pick one that you think is best suited for your case. You don’t want to pick a lawyer who will strain you financially. But going the cheap route can sometimes cause disappointment as well.
Choose Your Preferred Lawyer
After you are satisfied with one particular lawyer or attorney, you can then sign the contract and likely pay a retainer amount to begin the journey.
They will likely ask you to start sending over any and all items for review, as they start building your case.
Be sure to send them all documents, journals, records of communications, school records, doctor records and anything pertinent to your child custody goals.
If you follow each step keenly, you will definitely find a good lawyer that will walk you through your family court custody successfully. Don’t rush this process, as stated, your future and your children’s well being are at stake.
It is always the best practice to conduct due diligence to ensure that you get the best outcome that you will be satisfied with. You are always able to change counsel if you are unhappy with their performance, but it can be a huge pain to start over getting them up to speed.
better to choose a good lawyer from the start, that you can rely on.