There are few things in this world as important to us as our children. That’s a huge part of why custody cases frequently become fraught, heated exchanges. We just want what’s best for them, and we’re willing to fight for it. When these cases turn contentious, it’s usually a good idea to enlist the services of an experienced attorney. But the question remains: how do you find the best child custody lawyer?
The term “best” is relative. What’s best in one situation isn’t necessarily what’s best in another. In reality, we should be talking about “the best fit for your case.” There are many fantastic family law practitioners out there, but it’s important to find the right match for you and your case.
To that end, here are some qualities to take into account when looking for the best child custody lawyer to represent you and protect your interests. These aren’t the only ones, by far, but it’s a jumping off point.
1. Experience in Similar Cases
A good place to start is knowing what your case needs and looking for an attorney who fits those parameters.
- Is this going to be a complicated case?
- Can you and your ex only communicate by screaming at one another?
- Do your child and ex live in another state?
- Does the child have special needs?
Whatever the specifics of your situation, the best child custody lawyer is likely one with experience in similar cases. Find someone who fills your needs.
2. Knowledge of Local Laws
Laws regulating child custody and other family law matters vary a great deal from one state to the next. For this reason, the best child custody lawyer for you is one with an in-depth knowledge and understanding of all applicable regulations.
If your case takes place in your city, you probably want to hire a nearby attorney. But if another state has jurisdiction, you will want to consider finding local representation.
3. Specialization in the Field
The law is a wide reaching monster. Even within the smaller subset of family law, there are specific areas of focus. When looking for the best child custody lawyer for your case, consider specialization.
Custody attorneys all practice family law, but not all family law practitioners focus on custody. If a lawyer’s primary interest is high-asset divorce, he or she may not be the optimal choice. The State Bar of California Board of Specialization designates Certified Family Law Specialists, which is often a good place to start your search.
Sometimes the best child custody lawyer is one you can afford. Hiring an attorney isn’t cheap. It’s important to consider your finances and know what you can and can’t spend.
When you talk to an attorney, ask about billing practices. Know up front how an attorney or firm handles charges. This often provides realistic expectations of the cost and helps manage expenses. It’s also important to find out what you get for your money. Sometimes a more expensive lawyer offers more or is more efficient and winds up a better value. One lawyer may be more inclusive while another may charge for everything.
5. Ability to Communicate
Over the course of your case, you have to communicate with your attorney. Your lawyer, in turn, has to communicate with judges, mediators, other attorneys, and your ex. Good communication skills are understandably an important part of the job.
In addition to being comfortable with their abilities, you have to be able to accurately share your needs and desires. The best child custody lawyer for your case is one you can communicate with. It also goes the other way; they need to be able to clearly convey complex information to you.
6. Have a Heart
Child custody battles, especially contentious cases, are deeply emotional times. You’re going through a range of feelings, and so are the kids. And while it’s important to have an attorney who keeps an even keel, it’s also vital they have compassion for your situation.
You don’t want to hire a therapist or a stand-in best friend, but the best child custody lawyer for your case is one who truly understands what’s at stake for you and your family. A little compassion is never a bad thing.
There’s no universal roadmap or one-size-fits-all formula to finding the best child custody lawyer. Every case is as different as the people involved, so what that even means varies situation to situation. These aren’t the only elements to consider when looking for an attorney, not by a long shot. But they’re things to keep in mind as you conduct your search.