If you're searching for a child custody lawyer you're probably looking for the "best lawyer," right?
Few things get us as passionate or protective as our children. That is a major reason child custody cases so often become intense and contentious. We want to fight for what is in the best interest of our children.
When facing a child custody situation, one of the first questions that come to mind is what am I going to do now?! and “How do I find a good lawyer?”
Knowing how to choose a child custody lawyer who will provide you with the legal advice you need, at a price you can afford, and be the right fit for your situation, isn’t easy. It’s one of the most important children custody decisions you will make.
One thing I have heard in many of my consults is the difficulty of figuring out “how do you find the best child custody lawyer?”
Here's the truth about searching for a "best" child custody lawyer in Texas. There is not one. What you will find is there is not necessarily a best lawyer for you and your case, but there is the right lawyer for you and your case.
For example, at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, we frequently represent people who have gone through Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, or other Family Law Case. We might be a great fit for people who need representation for those cases.
However, we would not be a good fit for someone filing a personal injury claim for example, since we do not focus our practice on that area of the law.
Every attorney has his or her own:
- philosophies, and
- ways of doing business
Every lawyer has his or her own approach to divorce. Most important, every lawyer is good at some things, and not so good at others.
Tip #1 – Start to Learn About Child Custody
It used to be; the law was treated as a secret. The only way you could get your questions answered was to talk with a lawyer. There were no “free consultations.”
That is no longer the case.
Now, that we have the internet everywhere (even on cell phones), there is no excuse for anyone not to understanding their legal problem. A good starting point includes:
- Search the Internet for Frequently Asked Questions about child custody
- Visit lawyer websites dealing with child custody
- Watch the informational videos on YouTube about child custody
Remember this information and advice you find on the Internet may not be any good, but all you are doing is gathering information and beginning your education to get an idea about your legal problem before you talk to a lawyer.
Some of the information you find may be wrong. That is why you need to visit lots of websites. It would be foolish to rely on the information you find at any one website. The purpose here is to help you gather information to help you make an informed decision about which lawyer to hire.
This is not a plumbing problem. You know that you need to talk to a family law lawyer for the same reason you need a plumber, but this isn’t plumbing problem, this is your life, your family, your retirement, your house, your future.
This is every holiday you will now have to share your children with the other parent between two homes.
This is your retirement account balance you used to check every day and watched grow from your hard-earned work.
Tip #2 – Gather the Names of Potential Child Custody Lawyers
Think about your problem. What have you learned about your type of case? Now, can you summarize your problem in 20 words or less? “I am having a child custody problem.” “I would like to get visitation with my child” “My ex-girlfriend will not let me see my child.”
Do you know any lawyers in near you? They will be a good source of potential attorneys who can handle your case. Even if your legal need is in another state, ask the lawyer you know first. He or she can probably either refer you to a set of names in the other state or give you the name of someone who can.
Do any friends have used a lawyer? At least then, when you call that lawyer, perhaps “Ivan gave me your name, and I am looking for a lawyer who handles child custody cases.”
Browse the Internet. Search child custody in [city or state]. Don’t bother just typing in “child custody attorney;” that will return thousands of entries, most from geographical areas far from you. Rather, type in “child custody lawyer in Houston, Texas” or “divorce attorney in Kingwood, Texas.”
Tip #3 -Find a Law Firm Focused on Family Law
We usually recommend that people find a law firm, not just a general practice firm since it is useful to know that the firm you hire has experience in your type of case.
Look for lawyers who advertise in only one or two closely related specialties. A lawyer focused is better than getting a “jack-of-all-trades” type of firm or lawyer.
Today, the law is becoming more complex than ever before. Most lawyers now specialize in just a few related legal areas. For example, a lawyer who focusses on wills and estate planning may also handle elder law planning. A DWI lawyer may also handle other criminal cases.
A personal injury attorney may handle medical malpractice cases. Those ads that proclaim a long list of “here’s what we do” are not very helpful, are they? They probably mean “we are average at everything.”
A generalist may not know exactly how to handle your case and the risk of something bad happening increases. You probably want no lawyer who's "learning on the job."
Tip #4 – Ask for Their Information Package
Call and ask for the firm’s information package. Ask them to mail you any books, free reports, CD’s or DVD’s that they have produced for your child custody case.
Just like any other major purchase, you are usually better off doing all of your initial research in the comfort of your own home.
You do not want to be subjected to any high-pressure sales tactics, do you? Most lawyers offer free initial consultations in many cases and flat fee or reduced rates for an initial consultation in other areas.
Ask them to send you anything they would like you to read that would convince you to hire them as your child custody attorney.
Remember, while there are time limits for suing, often, you have a little time to research your potential attorney in the comfort of your own home, on your own time.
Tip #5 -Research the Best Child Custody Lawyers in Houston
The most important part of any family law case is the well-being of the children. This is why it's important to find an excellent family law attorney who has experience, and a good reputation with child custody cases.
Before making the mistake of hiring the wrong lawyer, do extensive research because it could cost you precious time with your child. A lawyer may have succeeded in your cousin's custody case, but your situation is different.
Diligently research lawyers recommended to you before you hire them. You want to discover as much as you can about them and the law firm they work for.
If you don't know someone, you can research online through court records to find prior cases the best child custody lawyers in Houston have worked on.
When looking for a child custody lawyer, a good starting place can include:
- A local search for an attorney familiar with Texas family law
- A family law attorney familiar with the local rules of the court your case is in
Look at the Reviews
Ultimately, finding the "best child custody lawyer" for your case will be relatively subjective. However, there are review sites to figure out if a child lawyer would be right for you where lawyers and clients have left feedback.
One of the best places to look is on Avvo. You can see an example of my own Avvo profile here.
And look to see if what people have said about them on Google.
Tip #6 -Find a Child Custody Law Firm You Can Trust
Now, finding a firm that focuses on your particular problem is useful, but it is equally important to find a firm you want to work with. Legal issues are always stressful to deal with, so you want a team you feel you can trust with your case.
One way we build trust with potential clients like you is by publishing free reports and books on Divorce and Child Custody. This information is free even before calling our firm if you want it (some people want to talk with our team right away, and we are always happy to hear from you).
Tip #7 - Bring Documentation Get Advice About Your Special Circumstances
Also bring documentation with you-you feel important to your case such as:
- medical records
- arrest records
- safety plans
- child custody orders
- child support orders
- acknowledgment of paternity
- birth certificates
- school records
- or other information that will help you with your custody case
Write out information beforehand because you'll probably get emotional and might not think clearly. Get advice from the best child custody lawyer in Houston about what other documentation you'll need.
Tip #8 -Prepare Specific Questions to Ask the Child Custody Lawyer in Houston
The best and most experienced child custody attorneys usually have a line of people begging to hire them. They are usually very selective in the cases they will handle and turn away many more than they accept.
Come prepared to ask your attorney questions about the process. I will typically initiate the "question session" during any meeting with a client, but if you have prepared questions to ask, it makes the discussion more fruitful and productive.
The length of time of a Child Custody case, visitation concerns, and child support questions are examples of questions that clients will ask with frequency.
You want to feel comfortable that they're knowledgeable, experienced, and confident. Remember that the best child custody lawyers in Houston are interested in helping you, and they also want to know if you're a good fit as a client.
A good child custody lawyer will not be insulted or put off by questions. Rather, they will welcome them, because it shows you are trying to educate yourself. The top child custody lawyers love people who take an educated, pro-active approach to their cases.
Write out a list of questions you want to ask them at the meeting. You want to know that they will care about your situation, and more important, your children. Some questions could include:
- How many years have you been in practice?
- Do you have experience handling my type of case?
- What is the hardest part of my case?
- What is the process for handling my case?
- Who in your office will be working on my case?
- Will you handle my custody case, or will it be turned over to another attorney at the firm?
- How will you keep me informed about my case?
- Have you published any articles, guides or books for consumers or other attorneys?
- What is your Avvo.com rating?
- Can I take a copy of the written fee agreement home with me to study? (There is no “standard” fee and no standard fee agreement. Do not assume that if you have seen one, you have seen them all.)
- If you are looking for family law attorney, ask, “Do you spend at least 90% of your time representing individuals in family law cases?”
- How much will the legal representation cost?
- Will I receive copies of every document in my case?
- Will my calls be returned promptly?
Tip #9 - Interview Lawyers to Find the Best Child Custody Lawyer in Houston
After you have done your preliminary homework, narrow your search to 3-5 child custody lawyers who appear to be experienced with your legal problem, make an appointment and interview them.
There is no substitute for an in-person interview. No matter how experienced or successful they are, you have to feel comfortable with them. You have to trust them. Many will meet you in your home if you cannot travel to the office.
Evaluate potential attorneys by questioning them about how they handle custody cases. Meeting them will also help you see if you're comfortable with them representing you.
The separation of two parents is hard enough on your children; you want the best child custody lawyer in Houston to be compassionate, too.
When you talk with a law firm, make sure that they show knowledge of your particular type of case. This again goes back to finding a law firm focused on family law, but it will also be important to your level of trust with the firm.
You want to know there will not be moments when the attorneys are wondering what the next step will be with your case.
Trust is important when dealing with sections of the law, like child custody, child support, or paternity. We have seen rough outcomes in cases taken on by the wrong attorney.
Interview at least 2 or 3 lawyers before you choose a child custody lawyer
It is not only important to interview your potential child custody attorney in person. Interview more than one.
Going to two or three lawyers’ offices and telling your story repeatedly can be exhausting. It’s tempting to want to just hire the first lawyer you meet.
Resist the temptation. Take the time to meet at least two attorneys.
Why? Different lawyers have different perspectives. You may get two very different views on how you should handle your case. If you do, that’s actually a good thing. You can then think about what each attorney said. Then you can choose the attorney who uses an approach you prefer.
Tip #10 If you screw up, cut your losses quickly
No matter how much research you do, or how carefully you try to choose an attorney, you can still make a mistake. It happens more often than you might think.
If mid-way through your child custody case you feel like you’ve chosen the wrong lawyer, do not be afraid to find a new divorce attorney. You don’t want to jump from lawyer to lawyer for no reason. But, if you find you are not comfortable with your initial attorney, it may be best to cut your losses.
If you are unhappy with your child custody lawyer, it’s best to change attorneys as early in your child custody case as you can. After your case has been pending for months or years, getting a new attorney becomes both more difficult and more expensive.
If you want to know more about what you can do, CLICK the button below to get your FREE E-book: “16 Steps to Help You Plan & Prepare for Your Texas Divorce”
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- Children's Passports and International Travel after Texas Divorce
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Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Houston, Texas Child Custody Lawyers
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding child custody, it's important to speak with one of our Houston, TX Child Custody Lawyers right away to protect your rights.
Our Child Custody lawyers in Houston TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC handles Child Custody casesin Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.