Individuals can find an attorney that works well for them through references, interviews, and other resources. For many people considering divorce or dealing with child custody issues, finding a child custody attorney to help them resolve custody issues is a top priority.
What do Child Custody Attorneys Do?
Family law attorneys handle many types of cases dealing with divorces and custody issues. However, child custody attorneys focus on cases dealing with custody issues. They can help clients with the initial custody arrangement during an initial divorce. Custody agreements can range from easy to extremely difficult and involved. A couple may not need an attorney that focuses on child custody issues if the divorce is amicable. The couple may agree on custody, visitation, and child support without the court’s intervention. However, in contentious divorces, either spouse may feel the need to find a good child custody attorney to protect his or her parental rights. Further, after a divorce, parents may find that they need a child custody attorney to enforce their custody agreement, visitation rights, or child support payments.
Many parents find that they cannot navigate the court system and get a judgment that actually makes the other parent respect the specifics of a custody agreement. An attorney familiar with family law, the family court system, and the best strategies can help parents resolve their custody issues and reduce their stress. For parents who require help with custody issues, finding the right child custody attorney is a top priority. Fortunately, there are many strategies they can use to make sure they are finding the best attorney for them.
Using References to Find a Good Child Custody Attorney
Parents looking for a good child custody attorney can seek references from other people who have been in the same situation. People who have used a child custody attorney or regularly work with them are a valuable resource. They can recommend attorneys to the parents and tell them about their experiences with the attorneys. Good sources of references include:
Asking friends and family members. People close to the divorcing parents have an idea of the situation surrounding the parents’ marriage, their children, and their desired custody arrangements. If they have been through a similar situation, they can likely recommend trustworthy, skilled attorneys. Alternatively, if they have had a bad experience with a custody attorney, they can warn the parents. Parents can then avoid hiring that person or firm.
Seeking advice from court clerks at the court office. Each courthouse has an office with court clerks that process paperwork and schedule cases. The clerks are familiar with the attorneys that frequently deal with custody issues. They can likely provide the names and contact numbers of child custody attorneys.
Inquiring with other parents, strangers included, who currently have cases at the child support office. They will be able to tell parents going through a divorce which attorneys helped them.
The Illinois State Bar Association can make referrals of attorneys that specialize in child custody cases. It can provide a list of attorneys that regularly work on child custody cases and work in the same geographical area as the parents. For example, the clerk can give parents a list of Elmhurst child custody lawyers or Oak Brook attorneys, depending on where they live and work.
Interviewing to Find a Good Child Custody Attorney
Once parents have a list of potential child custody attorneys, they need to interview them. Parents may receive many referrals for attorneys that helped other people. However, child custody battles are emotional and very personal to those involved. Interviews are an important step for parents to determine which child custody attorney will meet their needs and mesh well with their personalities. Parents should assess attorneys based on:
- Personality and style – Parents should try to find an attorney whose personality and style match their own. They do not need to find an attorney that will be their best friend. However, they should look for an attorney that they find approachable. Parents usually have a lot of questions. They may also have to share details of their lives. Communicating with the attorney will be easier if the parents are comfortable approaching him or her.
- Experience with their type of case – There are many types of custody cases. Some parents are able to work together to find the best custody arrangement for themselves and their children. Others will need extensive support to fight for the custody arrangement they need or for adequate child support. Parents may be looking for an attorney to help them address repeated custody violations. Parents should ensure they find an attorney with experience handling and winning their type of case. They should also make sure they are clear about how much time their case will likely take to resolve.
- Fee Structures – Parents should ask potential attorneys how much they charge. They should ask about retainers and hourly rates to understand how much they will be paying for the attorney’s services.
- Free Consultation – Parents need to know whether a child custody attorney is willing to provide a free consultation. With a free consultation, parents should be able to get a good idea of whether the attorney is a good fit for their case.
Using Resources to Find a Child Custody Lawyer
Parents can also use several resources to check an attorney’s reputation. Parents can:
- Research attorneys on the state bar’s website or the Illinois Attorney Registration website (iardc.org). Thse websites usually provides access to records about attorneys. Parents can check to see if the attorney is in good standing with the bar or if they have any disciplinary actions filed against them.
- Research the attorney on websites such as Google or Avvo.com. These sites provide users submitted reviews about attorneys. Parents can see what other clients have to say about the service they received from an attorney.
- Ask the attorney for references. When asked, attorneys should be able to provide the name and contact information of a few former clients willing to discuss their experience with potential new clients.
- Ask about the attorney around town. If parents live in a smaller community, attorneys’ reputations are likely will be known within the town. This strategy may not work in a large city like Chicago. However, when parents are looking for attorneys in smaller cities, such as Elmhurst, they should be able to find out about attorneys’ reputations by asking about them within the community.
When to Change Child Custody Attorneys
Even when parents complete their due diligence before choosing an attorney, they may still find that their attorney is not meeting their needs. However, parents have options if they find that their attorney is no longer effective or does not meet their needs. If parents need to fire their lawyer, they can release the attorney from his or her duties and begin a new search for a child custody attorney. Although the attorney will likely be disappointed, he or she should assist the parents by turning over the parents’ file, including all notes and research. On a positive note, parents will have a better idea of what they are looking for in their next attorney after they fire their first attorney. If parents need to find a new attorney, it is important to do so as early in their case as possible and before a Guardian Ad Litem or Child Representative is appointed by the court.
Dealing with child custody issues can be stressful for parents. However, individuals can make the process of reaching a custody agreement or enforcing a custody agreement easier on themselves by finding a good child custody attorney.