Few things get us as riled up as our kids. That’s a big reason why child custody cases so often become intense and antagonistic. We want to fight for what’s best for our children. To ensure this, it usually benefits you to enlist the help of an attorney. But how do you find a child custody lawyer?
Ideal Qualities of A Custody Lawyer
The best match for one person’s personality and circumstances may not be quite as perfect for another. While there’s no universal roadmap to finding the best child custody lawyer, there are qualities to consider in your search.
1. Similar Case Experience
If you’re after the best child custody lawyer for you, one component is having experience in similar cases. Look for an attorney with skills in the areas your circumstances require.
- Is your case going to be complex and high conflict?
- Does your child have special needs?
- Is there an interstate element to take into account?
Whatever the particulars, make sure whoever you hire is prepared to handle them.
2. Specialization in Custody Cases
Like experience, specialization is something to look for when trying to find the best child custody lawyer to represent you.
Custody attorneys all practice family law, but not all family law practitioners are custody attorneys.
Many are well-versed in multiple areas, but if an attorney is more interested in high-asset divorces, he or she may not be the right choice. Do your homework and make sure the skill set matches your specific needs.
Related Reading: What Happens When the Court Appoints a Guardian Ad Litem
Related Reading: What Is The UCCJA? A Look At How It Protects Children
3. Knowledge of Jurisdiction Laws
Laws and regulations vary a great deal from state to state. The best child custody lawyer for your situation is one with an in-depth knowledge of the rules where you live. Or at least where the case will be handled—they’re not always the same. In Oregon, it makes sense to hire an attorney who knows the ins and outs of Oregon law and how to aim for an optimal outcome.
4. Choose a Local Attorney
In addition to knowing the laws, a local attorney may be the best child custody lawyer for your case for other reasons. Accessibility is important. Not only when it comes to being available to answer questions, but also simple logistics.
- It’s much easier to meet without having to take a whole day off work or travel a great distance.
- Local representation may also make an attorney easier to vet—perhaps a friend can refer you or the regional bar association has recommendations.
- Attorneys operating in a specific geographical area may also have established relationships with judges and courthouse staff that can prove beneficial.
5. Ability to Communicate With All Parties Involved
This is someone you have to communicate with, but they also need to communicate on your behalf with the opposing party, judges, other lawyers, and your spouse. They also may need to communicate with people that work outside of family law, like accountants, Skills in this area are understandably important.
Whoever you hire is also a person you have to spend time with and work with. Ensuring you’re comfortable with them, confident in their abilities, and able to accurately share what you need, is key. You’ll likely experience more than enough conflict, avoiding strife with your lawyer makes everyone’s life easier.
6. Consideration of Your Financial Resources
Hiring an attorney tends to be quite expensive. Considering your financial resources, what you can and can’t spend, is important in determining the best child custody lawyer for you. Knowing up front how an attorney handles billing helps you manage expenses and keep a realistic expectation of the cost.
Related Reading: 5 Common Financial Mistakes in Divorce
Divorce and cases involving kids and guardianship are intense, emotional times. The best child custody lawyer for you may be one who knows this and understands what’s at stake for your family. You don’t necessarily need someone to hold your hand every step of the way—you can always hire a therapist or lean on family and friends for that—but you do want to find someone you can work with on a practical level towards a common goal. And a little compassion never hurt anyone.
Hiring the best child custody lawyer for your case is one of the most important decisions you may ever make. It can have a huge impact on your hearing and your life moving forward. This is why it’s vital to put in the time and legwork to make sure your attorney is the right fit for you, your family, and your situation.