Your child’s custody is a matter that should not be left to chance. While you are ultimately the one fighting for your rights, your battle is best fought for you by a lawyer. If you still do not have a lawyer and you are separated right now, then it’s time for you to start choosing one that’s best for you.
Draw a list of names suggested by friends and colleagues. Take the time to interview each one to find out the following:
- The lawyer’s views on annulment/divorce, mediation and joint custody. You are looking for someone who shares your philosophy.
- The length of his experience in family law. You need a lawyer who is familiar with your local court personnel and the procedures. He can be an asset if he has represented clients before the same judicial officers who may end up hearing your case.
- Estimated costs of cases similar to yours. What you will hear is a ballpark figure to give you an idea if it is within your budget.
- Legal fees and billing practices. He may have a flat fee and hourly fees. It is also common practice to ask for a deposit and for you to be billed for phone calls, legal research, correspondence, court appearances and such other time spent in relation to your case.
- The attorney-client written agreement. You should be able to have lawyer’s fees, billing procedures, the lawyer’s scope of work and his excluded services clearly written in black and white. Take the time out to read and understand this document before signing it.
- Trust and rapport with prospective lawyer. You want someone who you can get along with and can disclose all the gory details pertinent to your case. There is nothing that a lawyer dislikes more than surprises in the courtroom. Letting your lawyer know what you did wrong will help him/her formulate the proper strategy for you.