What to Look for in a Child Custody Lawyer
Divorce cases are nothing short of stressful. While sorting through the assets between yourself and your spouse, you also need to consider the most important assets, that is the well-being of your children and what’s best for them.
Because of how important these decisions are in a child custody case, it’s vital to find an attorney that is not only experienced and strong when in front of the judge, but also empathetic and passionate about keeping families connected. This is why we’ve created this blog to help you not only begin your search, but also help you narrow down your options to find the lawyer that’s perfect for your case and for your family.
1. Ask Around
At the beginning of your search, it can be difficult to know where to start when looking for a family law attorney. Rather than skimming through tens of hundreds of websites and articles, it’s best to begin with what you know.
Start by asking your friends and family who have been through child custody cases. Learn from their experiences and take note of what they like and didn’t like about their lawyer. If they’re local to you, make sure to get the name of their lawyer or possibly other lawyers they almost chose.
If you don’t know anyone personally that has gone through a child custody case, your county and state offer plenty of resources to find family law attorneys. You can always consult your local court clerks and the state bar association for referrals. Some courts also have a network of lawyers, so don’t be afraid to call the court directly.
2. Further Research
Once you’ve compiled a list of lawyers from these recommendations, it’s time to narrow down your options. Conduct research by looking through each lawyers’ websites and social media pages. See how they describe themselves and interact with others, and if this behavior seems appropriate to you.
It’s also a good idea to look at reviews on Google or Yelp from previous clients. While these reviews can be biased, as they’re normally posted by people who feel strongly one way or the other, try to notice trends in what people are saying or how they rate the lawyer.
Beyond online research, you should also do some digging into their background. Look through Virginia’s state bar attorney directory to see if the lawyer is in good standing or has ever had their license suspended. You can even talk with other lawyers to get their opinion on anyone you’re considering, especially if the person you’re talking to has worked in the county or state for a while.
3. Meet In-Person
After eliminating a few lawyers, it’s important to meet with your top choices in person. While an attorney may seem right for you through their website and social media, there’s no greater test than speaking with someone face-to-face.
When meeting with the attorney, make sure to look for anything that might make them a good or bad fit. Remember, you need someone who will truly work with you and your family, someone who will understand your needs so they can more effectively fight for them in court.
Pay attention to their communication skills, how they speak not only with you about the case, but also with and about your family. Your family lawyer should be able to treat your kids with the same amount of respect and understanding that you would. Most importantly, if you have a bad feeling about the lawyer, listen to it. If this person isn’t right for your family and your case, then there’s no point in hiring them and possibly wasting more money and time.
4. Ask the Right Questions
By the end of your meeting with your potential lawyer, it’s vital to understand what type of lawyer they are and if their goals line up with your own. This is why it’s important to ask the right questions and get a sense of the lawyer’s ethics and intentions when developing a case.
There are a few points you should focus on when coming up with your question. You should ask about their background and see if it lines up with your research. Find out their legal philosophy to see if you agree with their approach to law. Find out their case management skills to make sure they’ll be on top of your case.
In a similar vein, you should ask them what they think about your case, to see if they’ll be open and honest with you. And possibly most importantly, make sure to ask about their cost to make sure the attorney can fit into your budget.
If you need further help coming up with specific questions, this link has some sample questions to get you started.
5. Never Settle
No matter how much research and planning you do beforehand, you can never truly tell how good of a match a lawyer is until you actually work with them. Because of that, it’s possible that you may realize further into the case that this attorney is not right for you and your family.
Don’t be afraid to find another lawyer if your current one isn’t up to your standards. While you may have felt confident during your initial meetings, this is an important decision and you need the attorney that is right for you.
When searching for a Richmond family attorney, call Cravens and Noll for an initial consultation to make sure we are the right fit for you and your family. Our experienced team of Virginia family lawyers know the law like the back of our hands and will work with your family to get the best results from your case. Check out our family law page for more details.
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