Interview a child custody lawyer first to make sure they’re a fit

The battle begins

So you’ve gotten to the point where you know you need a child custody lawyer. Just to get to this point, you’ve probably already gone through an entire obstacle course. This no doubt included tense conversations, emotional exchanges, and maybe even some harsh realities.

Hopefully, you’re lucky because you’ve reached a tacit agreement with your ex. For example, you’ve verbally agreed on a custody schedule covering the next 12 months. Now all you need to do is have a custody agreement formalized by attorneys and ratified by the court. Situations like this only require you to get your child custody attorney, and your ex getting theirs, and minimum time spent to formalize the agreement. But, that’s only if you’re lucky.

It’s more likely you’ve realized things won’t be that simple. And even worse, you realize you might you’ve got a fight on your hands. This means things are probably about to get stressful, upsetting… and expensive.

More precious than anything

Needing a child custody lawyer goes to the heart of the most precious thing in the world… your kids. Unfortunately,  that’s often where the power struggle begins. Everyone knows the worst thing to do is turn your kids into a battleground. But, sometimes it can seem almost impossible to avoid. Learning to share power as co-parents is crucial, but difficult and more art than science. Check out our blog Learning to Share Power as A Co-Parent for tips on how to manage a power struggle with your ex.

You should identify at least 3 child custody lawyers and interview each of them to find one that best fits your personality and needs. It’s okay to ask them for a free no-obligation meeting. It is important to get to know them before you commit. You want to feel comfortable with the person who is representing you on such an important issue.

Ask the right questions

Here are some things you should always ask your child custody lawyer before committing to them:

Style and approach

  • What is your overall approach and style in handling child custody cases?
  • How do you handle difficult ex-spouses who are being unreasonable and unrealistic in their demands?
  • How much goodwill should I show my ex-spouse before toughening my stance?

Strategy

  • Do you have strategies for minimizing conflict with my ex-spouse and their attorneys? What are they?
  • Will you present me with multiple options or just make an outright recommendation?

My case

  • What is your opinion of my child custody case?
  • What custody outcome can I reasonably expect to achieve?
  • How long is it likely to take to get my child custody case resolved?

Working together

  • How often will we need to meet?
  • What will you require from me throughout this process?
  • What can I expect from you in terms of service and ongoing communication?
  • Will there be anybody else working on my case? And if yes, who will that be, and what will they be doing?

Costs and payment

  • What is the minimum this is likely to cost? And the maximum likely cost?
  • Can you articulate the main contributors to the difference between these two?
  • How will you help to keep legal costs down?
  • What other fees and expenses will I be required to pay?
  • And do you require a retainer payment?

These questions will get you off to a good start. And you will gain a solid understanding of what your child custody attorney can do for you. If you want more details on the cost and impact a child support lawyer can have, check out a previous blog post, When do you need a Child Support Lawyer. 

Sharing power as co-parents

And always remember, learning to share power as co-parents will become the new normal for you and your ex. In other words, try and do your best and play your part in finding common ground.  This way, you will contribute to minimizing conflict and protecting the best interests of your kids.