Finding a family law attorney for your child custody case is not hard. Finding the right family law attorney for you and your child custody can be a bit trickier.
Just because Google says a particular custody attorney is the “best child custody lawyer near me” doesn’t mean that attorney will be a great match for you. Choosing the right family law lawyer for your case is not necessarily about finding the most expensive attorney in town or the most popular attorney according to Yelp.
Tips and Tricks to Choose the Best Family Law Attorney for Your Custody Case
The right family lawyer can make a real difference both in the outcome of your custody case and how you make it through the very emotional process. You want a trusting relationship. You want a lawyer who is serious about your case and listens to your needs.
Here is a basic guide to help you find the best family law attorney for you and your custody case.
Tip #1 – Do Your Homework
Generally, online search tools (i.e. Yelp, Google, Avvo) will group and recommend attorneys by practice area and location. Once you have found a few family law attorneys in your area, check out their websites. Is the website tasteful and helpful? Does the attorney look professional?
While online reviews do not provide a complete picture of an attorney’s reputation, they can be helpful to provide insight into other people’s experiences with that attorney. Making sure the attorneys you plan to meet with have a clean disciplinary record is a crucial step in the process of vetting potential family law lawyers.
Once you have narrowed down a list of family attorneys, meet with each of them (this can be done over the phone or by Zoom), and talk with them about your case to make sure you feel comfortable with the family lawyer you ultimately choose to represent you in your custody case.
Tip #2 – Ask Yourself: “Do I Like This Lawyer?”
One size does not fit all! You don’t get along with every single person on the planet, so it’s no surprise that you probably won’t feel comfortable with every family attorney you meet.
Does your personality mesh with the attorney’s? No matter how experienced a lawyer is, if you do not get along, your case will be more difficult.
You must be able to get along with your lawyer. The initial consultation is as much about deciding if you can have a working relationship with your attorney as it is finding out about how California custody law applies to your case. If the lawyer you are meeting with is abrasive, distracted, disorganized, or acts in any other way that does not give you confidence, consider how you will feel later on in the case if you choose this lawyer. This is especially true if you cannot reach a stipulation for joint custody and end up in family court.
Questions to ask yourself before retaining a family law attorney:
Does the attorney answer my questions completely and in terms that I can easily understand?
Does he or she really listen to me?
Does the attorney appear, speak, and behave in a professional, courteous, and intelligent manner?
Does the attorney demonstrate a sincere interest in helping me with my case?
Can the attorney articulate a strategy to help me resolve my case in the most advantageous way? Does he or she explain the pros and cons of various options?
Do I feel I can work well with this attorney?
Every attorney has a different style and personality. It’s important to meet with a few attorneys (this can be done over the phone or by zoom), and talk with them about your case to make sure you feel comfortable with the family lawyer you ultimately choose to represent you in your child custody case.
Tip #3 – Pick a Lawyer, Not a Law Firm
The most important relationship is not between the law firm and the client, but between the lawyer and the client.
Just because a law firm has extensive experience in family law and a good reputation, does not mean that every attorney at the firm has that experience and reputation.
Seek out a relationship with an individual attorney in a firm as your lawyer. Ask the lawyer you meet with this question: “Will you be handling my case?”
If you have a good rapport with the lawyer you have your consultation with, but will ultimately not be working with that lawyer, you might want to ask to meet with the associate who will be handling your case.
Tip #4 – Don’t Choose a Family Law Attorney Based Solely on the Recommendation of a Friend
You may have friends or family who might have already gone through a custody case and might want to offer you legal advice or recommend an attorney, but they won’t necessarily know what is best for you.
If you have a friend who can’t say enough great things about his or her California custody attorney, you should absolutely research that attorney and schedule a consult with them; but don’t rely solely on the recommendation of a friend! A recommended attorney may have been perfect for your friend’s custody case, but that does not mean they are perfect for you or your case.
While friends and family are a great source for emotional support, they are not legal professionals.
Take the recommendation of a friend as the starting point of the process, not the end of it.
Ultimately, you will be the one to have to live with the results of your custody case, so it is important to be in charge of choosing the best family law attorney for yourself. A father or mother can lose custody of their child if they make certain mistakes during their custody case, so having an attorney you can trust to help you avoid those mistakes is imperative.
California’s family law procedures are complex and trying to navigate them without help of a skilled family lawyer can be frustrating. If you have questions about child custody, contact a family law attorney who can guide you through the court process in a prompt and clear manner.