A child custody lawyer specializes in being the voice of any child in the courtroom. They help ensure that the outcome of the case serves the child’s best interest.
But a child custody lawyer handles many more cases than just ones involving divorce. They handle any case where it is necessary to decide who will have custody or guardianship of the child. These cases might include when a legal guardian has passed away or in cases of abuse and neglect. A child custody lawyer might also handle cases of juvenile delinquency.
Whether its divorce, changing a custody agreement, or delinquency, none of these situations are easy. Having a quality child custody lawyer at your side can make all the difference.
Where Do I Start?
Once you decide to hire a child custody lawyer the search can be a little intimidating. So here are some tips to help make the search a little easier.
Finding a ‘custody lawyer near me’ might not seem like the most important thing. And it can be really tempting to look for a lawyer in a larger city near you, especially if you live in a rural area. But your lawyer will be much more accessible and easier to contact if they have a local office. You’ll find that meeting in person is easier than phone meetings. Meeting up to discuss your case is much harder to coordinate when you or your lawyer would need to travel a significant distance to do so.
If your case crosses state lines, just be sure to check that your lawyer is knowledgeable about any differences in custody laws.
For example, Texas child custody laws are a little different from other states. One of the major differences is that the Texas Family Code refers to custody as ‘conservatorship’. What other states call a custodial parent is what Texas courts refer to as a managing conservator. Managing conservatorship is further broken down into sole or joint managing conservatorship. A non-custodial parent is a possessory conservator.
Another example is that Texas courts assume both parents are fit for joint conservatorship. It is the burden of the other parent and their lawyer to prove grounds for sole conservatorship. This may not be the case in all states.
So, before you hire your local lawyer, make sure they know these differences and how it may affect your case.
Recommendations and Reviews
If you needed to hire a cleaning service or repairman, the first thing you might do is ask your friends if they have a service they would recommend. This is also a great way to find an attorney. When they come highly recommended from someone you know, it can go a long way in easing any concerns you might have. Though, even if they come highly recommended, it’s always a good idea to check their experience and reviews.
Reviews from previous clients will give you an idea of what types of cases this lawyer has handled in the past. You will also get to see how pleased past clients have been with the service they received. Just be sure to check more than one review site to make certain you get an unbiased look at their past work.
Know Your Case
This might seem like a silly thing to mention, but it is important to know the facts of your case. It is your lawyers’ job to know the law, but they will have a hard time giving you proper representation without complete information. This is especially important if your case crosses state lines or involves children with special needs. Other things your lawyer may need to know is if there is a criminal history, history of neglect or abuse, or any other concerns which might affect custody. Information like that can change the focus of the case and the approach your lawyer takes. This will also help you rule out lawyers who may not be a good fit.
One of the best ways to gauge if a lawyer would be a good fit for your case is to check their level of experience. How many years have they practiced family law? Do they have any areas of specialty? Even with a background in family law not all attorneys will have experience with child welfare. So,you’ll want to be sure to hire someone whose primary focus is seeing that the needs of your children are met.
Other things to consider are the types of cases they have represented in the past. Have they worked cases like yours? What about cases with particularly sensitive subjects? Such as abuse, neglect, a family feud, or a death in the family. Does your case involve children with special needs?
Whatever the needs of your case are, it will be important to hire a lawyer with demonstrable experience in those areas. Your lawyer may not be able to discuss client details, but they should be able to speak to their knowledge on these topics. It is also a good idea to ask your prospective lawyer for their thoughts on how they might approach your case. If you aren’t confident in their responses, it might be a good idea to keep looking.
In Person Interview
Say you have narrowed your list of possible lawyers down to just a few names. Before you decide to hire anyone, it is a good idea to meet them in person. No doubt you are busy dealing with any number of other things amidst your divorce or custody battle. So, meeting in person might seem like an unnecessary last step. But this meeting can give you a lot of valuable feedback on the ‘intangible’ skills a great lawyer needs. These are things like people skills, compassion, and compatibility.
For example, no one expects you to be best friends with your lawyer, but you should be able to at least get along. If you do not feel comfortable around your lawyer or feel they do not genuinely care about your case, it can leave you feeling ripped off. A great child custody lawyer will take your history with the child and talk about what your goals are for the case. When appropriate they may speak to the child one on one to learn their thoughts and feelings as well. They will have and clearly display compassion for what you are going through. They will also be able to treat sensitive topics with an appropriate level of care.
Remember, this is a difficult time and there is a lot at stake. Child custody agreements can be changed as needed but it can be a very lengthy and costly endeavor. But the right attorney can make all the difference.
So, if you are asking yourself, how do I find the right child custody lawyer near me? Consider speaking with the attorneys at Ilarraza Law. With their years of experience in custody cases you can be certain they will assert your rights and have your child’s best interests at heart.
Call Ilarraza Law at (214) 646-3253 for more information about how to find a good child custody lawyer near you.