The Outcome Of Your Case Is Largely Affected By The Attorney You Choose.
By Jeffrey Scott Steiner, M.Ed.
The legal profession is like any other profession – there are excellent, average, poor and bad lawyers. Hourly fees can reach up to $200+ and retainers of thousands of dollars. Most fathers involved in custody negotiations need to choose their attorneys wisely and get it right the first time.
It is important to do your homework. Spend time online searching for attorneys in your area who practice family law and have a lot experience with successful proven cases. One place to start would be finding your county bar association. Look for reviews and reach out to family and friends for recommendations.
Find four or five reputable lawyers that you want to talk to about your situation. Remember, this is their job interview. Make sure you get all the information you need to understand your situation and be comfortable with who might be representing you and to provide direction as to what you think is in the best interests of your children.
Always bee prepared when you to speak to them. You should ask about their background, all applicable custody law, how they do working for fathers and specifics on fees and case management.
When you are done, ask questions like:
- How comfortable are you with the lawyer’s approach? Will he or she give you the balance you need between providing direction and being willing to go in the direction you want?
- Is the lawyer willing to fight for more than occasional custody for the father? Is there a tendency to settle for less to avoid a trial? Will they really work do get what you believe is in the best interest of your children?
- Does the lawyer point out several nuances in the custody situation that you wouldn’t have thought of on your own?
- Is the lawyer actually listening to your questions or merely eager to get your retainer?
- Is the lawyer’s estimate of the time/money needed to get through various parts of the process in the same range as our guidance or is the lawyer trying to lowball you?
DON’T SETTLE IF YOU ARE NOT SURE OR YOU’RE UNCOMFORTABLE! When you choose an attorney, you should be confident, happy and secure in knowing they will represent your best interests. Fathers can be overly deferential in these matters. It is never good for children when their parents are unnecessarily contentious. Once custody is established it is very hard to have it altered.
You know both the mother and your children better than anyone else. Trust your gut and follow your heart. What is in the best interests of your children, not just today, but also a year from now, five years from now, etc.? You will be paying your lawyer a lot of money, they are working for you, on behalf of your children.
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