Choosing a good child custody attorney can be difficult, particularly because of the many highly emotional issues that emerge during child custody proceedings. Parents looking to hire a child custody attorney should use the following resources to identify experienced, qualified candidates:
The best resource for parents who are seeking information on a good child custody attorney is to seek references from other people. Important references to obtain on child custody attorneys include:
- Asking friends and family members
- Seeking advice from court clerks at the court office
- Inquiring of other parents, strangers included, who currently have cases at the child support office
- The state bar association can pass on referrals
- Depending on your state, some courts may maintain a network of attorneys
Child Custody Attorney Interview
It's important for single parents to interview a potential child custody attorney before hiring them. Some questions to ask are surrounding:
- Personality and Style - A single parent wants to ensure that an attorney's personality and style matches his or her own. It doesn't have to be exactly the same, but a single parent should find the attorney to be approachable, as there will be a lot of questions along the way.
- Experience with Your Type of Case- A single parent should choose an attorney that has experience handling - and winning - his or her type of case. A single parent should also understand how many hours it may take for their case to be decided.
- Fee Structure - A single parent should inquire into whether the attorney charges on the basis of a retainer or on a per hour basis.
- Free Consultation - A single parent wants to know whether a child custody attorney is willing to provide a free consultation. A free consultation will give a parent an idea of whether he or she will be able to work with the attorney
If a single parent cannot afford a paid attorney, he or she may qualify for a court-appointed attorney. A court-appointed attorney will serve to represent the single parent, in the same way as a paid attorney. The county family court will maintain a network of pro bono attorneys to assist with child custody cases.
Resources to Investigate the Attorney's Reputation
There are several resources that a parent may use to check an attorney's reputation, including:
- Checking the attorney directory in your state. The attorney directory will let a parent know if an attorney is in good standing with the state bar or if their attorney's license has been suspended and if so, the reasons for suspension status.
Note: Most states require attorneys to reveal that information to a prospective client. Additionally, an attorney cannot practice law in states where their license has been suspended.
- Asking around town. If single parents live in a smaller community, there's a good chance that an attorney's reputation will be well known in that particular community. Parents can inquire about an attorney with someone else or multiple people in the community.
Fire a Child Custody Attorney Who Isn't Meeting Your Needs
- Don't worry about making a mistake. If the agreement between you and your attorney is no longer effective or does not meet your needs, release the attorney from his or her duties and begin a new search for a new child custody attorney.
For more information about finding good attorneys, parents should refer to additional resources on child custody lawyers or a parent can speak with a member of their State Bar Association.