Working with a good lawyer, trained in family law, will make a world of difference for the future of your family.
My first lawyer listened to me and took the time to explain things. I thought he would help settle our conflicts and help us pave the way for a future of co-parenting. It wasn't until our first appearance in court that I learned he and my ex's lawyer had a long history of arguing cases against each other and seemed to be in fierce competition. He wasn't shy about shooting some insults at him. Red flag!
I didn't want the conflict to escalate. Things were bad enough. My husband left when our was two days old. We had many, many years of co-parenting to navigate after the dust of family court and divorce settled.
Right away I started looking for a new lawyer. That's when I met Marilyn. She had spent years focusing on family law and was also a trained family mediator. Her specialty was not only fighting for her client's rights but also to reduce conflict so children didn't suffer the effect of high-conflict parents.
The main thing I learned is that it's important to do some research and talk with (or interview) a few different lawyers in your area. This gives you a chance to ask questions about things like:
Their cost. Yes, this is a driving factor. A good lawyer will understand your hesitancy if their cost is higher than other prospects. A good lawyer will also help teach you how to keep your costs lowered. I wrote a short piece on how I was able to save thousands of dollars with my lawyer. Check it out to see if it helps.
Do they practice primarily in family law? This is super important. The last thing you need is a lawyer who treats your family matter like corporate litigation.
How busy are they? A lawyer with a jam-packed schedule doesn't necessarily mean they're great lawyers. If your lawyer has too many cases on the go they may not have enough time to dedicate to providing you with all the advice and guidance you need, when you need it.
What is their practice philosophy? Do they bring many cases to trial or help their clients go through more collaborative processes, like mediation?
Another good reason to talk with different lawyers is to gauge their honesty. If they're promising that you'll get everything you want you might want to think again. This could be a red flag that they're only looking for business and your money.
Nothing is more important than working with a lawyer who understands what's a stake - the future of how your family will function and how your children will grow up.
This all takes some work on your part but considering the cost (even for reasonably process lawyers) it's worth it.