With more than 800,000 lawyers in the United States, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, it can be tough to determine which is the right one for any legal matter. It can become especially difficult when children are involved. Child custody can quickly turn into a brutal battle, so it’s important you have someone with your best interests and the right expertise on your side. DivorceForce understands finding the right child custody lawyer is no easy task, so we’ve developed a list of steps you can take to determine the perfect fit.
Determine Ideal Qualities
Before conducting research, you should know what you’re looking for. You want a lawyer whose personality matches yours and has expertise in similar cases.
First, determine the type of specialization you would like them to have. Not all family lawyers are custody attorneys, but all custody attorneys practice family law. It’s important the legal representation you choose has the right skill set for the task at hand. Find out if they’ve won cases with circumstances similar to yours. Maybe you know your situation is complex and will high conflict. Or, your case involves an interstate element. The lawyer you choose should be able to navigate these special circumstances. A third requirement is knowledge of your state’s jurisdiction laws.
Decide if you want to enlist a local attorney, or one an hour away. A local lawyer offers multiple benefits, including accessibility and established relationships with the area’s judges and courthouse staff. Communication and compassion are the final two qualities to consider. Ensure your lawyer will swiftly communicate with you on important matters and provide a little support along the way.
Now that you’ve determined the ideal qualities your custody lawyer should have, do the research. Spend time Googling custody lawyers in your area, and read through their websites and reviews. To investigate an attorney’s reputation, check them out on DivorceForcePRO and consult the attorney directory in your state. After you’ve completed extensive research, seek references from others such as friends, family, court clerks, other parents going through custody cases, and the state bar association. Based on the feedback, develop a short list of potential attorneys.
Set Up Consultations & Compare Firms
Call each attorney on the list to schedule a consultation. Prepare a list of questions to discuss. Ensure these cover their experience with cases like yours, fee structure, and consultation fee.
Questions may include:
- What is your approach to child custody cases?
- What is your assessment of my case?
- What kind of resolution can I expect?
- What potential problems could impact the outcome?
- Will the case have to go to trial?
- How long will it take to resolve the custody issues?
- What should be included in the child custody agreement?
- Do you charge on the basis of a retainer, or per hour?
During this conversation, you should also mentally evaluate their personalities. Do they seem compassionate and supportive? Does their approach match your goals? Take notes during the discussion, so you can compare later.
Read “Top Tips to Prep for a Divorce Lawyer Consultation” for more information.
After completing multiple interviews, it’s time to compare firms. Review your notes and decide which legal rep is right for you and your case. Consider their costs, personalities, and approaches when making the final choice.
Gregory C. Frank is the CEO and Founder of DivorceForce.