There are few things that people are as passionate and protective over than their children, which is why child custody cases can often bring up a lot of intense emotions. Legal issues involving child custody require a skilled family lawyer who can ensure that the child’s best interests are a priority.
You and your children deserve the best custody attorney, but what does that look like?
Knowing how to choose a child custody lawyer is essential, the agreements that are made are likely to have a big impact on your future and the future of your children.
There are key questions you can ask yourself when choosing a lawyer that refers to both their skills and experience and the degree to which they share your values and are the right choice for your case. After all, you are going to be spending a lot of time with your attorney and it is important that you can speak with them openly, without judgment.
At Skillern Firm, we are dedicated to helping our clients navigate child custody arrangements and other family law matters. Our top priority is the well-being of children while protecting the interests of our clients.
We take the time to understand your situation, your needs, and your goals. As well as legal guidance, we are also a source of emotional support and will be by your side from start to finish.
Contact us today for an initial consultation with an experienced child custody attorney at 936-213-8479.
Although we think we are the right fit for your child custody case, we want you to be as confident as us. So if you are trying to decide how to find the best child custody attorney, then here are 10 easy steps to follow.
Step 1 – Learn About Child Custody
It might be helpful for you to understand some basics about child custody in Texas before you begin. While the information on the internet is not always 100% accurate, it will give you some understanding so that you know what issues might be relevant in your case and what types of things you might like to ask a potential family law lawyer.
In Texas, there are two main types of custody arrangements: sole custody, and joint custody. Sole custody gives one parent the right to make all the important decisions in the child’s life. Joint custody means that parents share parental rights and responsibilities, including the right to make decisions and parenting time.
The family court will always favor joint custody unless there is a reason why sole custody should be awarded, such as a history of substance misuse or abuse. If you believe that you should have sole custody, then you need a good attorney who can help you evidence your claims.
Step 2 – Find a Local Law Firm Focused on Family Law
When assessing potential child custody lawyers, you may want to ask yourself whether they are committed to family law. The best child custody lawyer will practice family law every day and have extensive experience handling cases similar to yours.
If a law firm does everything from criminal defense to personal injury to family law, then you may question whether they can truly have the in-depth understanding of family law necessary to navigate your case.
Finding a local Texas attorney is also an advantage. State law is complex, and it is important that your child custody attorney has an in-depth understanding of all the laws relevant to your case. It is also important that they can be physically present to negotiate between you and your ex-spouse.
A local attorney is also likely to have experience dealing with the Judge overseeing your case, which means that they can tailor their advice based on their knowledge of them.
At Skillern Firm, we focus exclusively on family law in Texas. Our practice areas cover Houston, Fort Bend County, Sugar Land, Harris County, Katy, Cypress, and Montgomery County.
Be Careful About Advertisements
When you are searching for local law firms, be careful about big fancy advertisements. Although they do a great job of catching your eye, that might not make them the best law firm for your child custody case.
A google search, an advertisement, or recommendation from friends and family are all good starting points. However, it is important to do your research before choosing the right law firm for you.
Any decent attorney will be able to show you glowing reviews from previous clients. However, a law firm isn’t going to show any negative reviews on its website, so it’s good to find reviews on independent sites.
One great place to start isavvo.com, which rate lawyers between 1-10 based on factors such as years in service, client reviews, awards, professional association, and more. It will also inform you if the lawyer you are considering has ever been disciplined by their Bar Association.
We are proud that our leading attorney, Mathew Skillern, has the highest possible AVVO rating of 10!
Step 4 – Look to See if They Have Any Awards
When you are considering a law firm, you can take a look around their website. Most law firms will have dedicated pages for their family law attorneys, which will let you know about their experience, how long they have practiced family law, whether they have any particular focus in their practice, their professional associations and honors and awards.
Lawyers won’t recommend another lawyer unless they are competent, as it will risk their own reputation. Therefore, peer-reviewed awards are a good way of finding out about your attorney’s reputation.
One example is Super Lawyers, a national directory with a strict peer-review process. It selects around 5% of lawyers in each state every year to award and the process begins with peer nominations. Our founder, Matthew Skillern, has received many awards, including Texas Super Lawyers 2010-2011 and 2015-2017.
Step 5 – Consider The Important Factors in Your Case
There may be important considerations in your child custody case which you need your attorney to handle. For example, perhaps you or your child have a disability, your divorce involves a self-owned business, or your ex-spouse has substance misuse problems.
If there are any factors that need to be considered in your case, then you should think about what they are and consider looking for an attorney with specific experience.
A good family law firm will have a variety of skill sets in its team. One attorney may have extensive experience working with victims of domestic violence, while another deals with high-asset divorces. They should take the time to listen to your needs and assign you the best attorney for your case.
If you are a victim of domestic violence, then it is important your attorney understands the care and dedication that your case requires. You deserve to feel safe and secure, and an attorney should be able to act quickly to file an injunction with the court to keep your spouse away from you.
At Skillern Firm, we understand how difficult it is to take those first steps. Our diverse team is prepared to handle whatever your case brings up. We are here to help.
Step 6 – Consider What You Would Like To Find Out in Your Initial Consultation
Experienced child custody attorneys will be able to answer your questions. Before you make a firm decision on your representation, you may interview more than one attorney to determine who is the best fit.
If you are prepared with questions to ask, it will allow you to get the most out of your initial consultation and will ensure that the information you get is specific to your case.
When you are preparing your questions, there are a few areas you may wish to find out about, such as their level of experience, accessibility, and values.
Although many cases will end in settlement, without the need for a trial, it is important that your child custody lawyer has experience in family court. This ensures that they can handle whatever your case brings up and won’t be afraid to fight for your best interests in court if necessary. At Skillern Firm, we will be prepared to fight on your behalf in court if necessary.
Skills in Negotiation and Mediation
A good family law attorney will strive to limit court involvement as much as possible. That’s because court proceedings are expensive, time-consuming, and often have a negative impact on relationships.
At Skillern Firm, all of our attorneys are highly trained in mediation and negotiation and we prioritize those skills. You may think that you cannot possibly sit down and talk with your ex-spouse, but many people are shocked by what they can achieve with our help.
Mediation often has benefits for children as well. Your ex-spouse will remain in your life after divorce if you have children, so it is better if you can remain on speaking terms. Mediation protects children from long and nasty court battles and helps shield them from future arguments.
It also allows you and your ex-spouse to come to a personalized child custody arrangement that fits your schedule and your children. You can consider their school, extra circular activities, access to their friends and wider family, and other matters of importance to agree to a plan that best fits their needs.
Divorce brings up a lot of emotion and personal issues, and so it is important that you and your attorney share the same values. A good attorney should take the time to learn what’s important to you in the initial consultation so that they can determine whether they are a good fit for your case.
The best child custody lawyers will be in high demand, which means they probably have a full caseload. However, that should not prevent them from answering your questions in a timely manner. You should not be left waiting days or even weeks for an answer, especially considering the delicate nature of child custody cases.
At Skillern Firm, we are committed to keeping you informed at every stage of your case and being prompt to answer your questions.
Step 7 – Prepare a List of Questions to Ask Your Potential Child Custody Attorney
Now you know the types of things you need to find out about. Write out a simple list of questions that you can have with you at your initial consultation. Here are some of the questions you might like to include:
How many years of experience do you have in family law in Texas?
Do you have experience handling cases similar to mine?
What approach will you use to handle my case?
Do you have courtroom experience?
Are you trained in mediation?
How will I contact you and how quickly can I expect a response?
What is your AVVO rating?
What would a good result look like in my case and how do we get there?
Do you have any professional associations or honors?
Can I see testimonials from your previous clients?
Step 8 – Interview Potential Attorneys
Once you have selected your potential attorneys, it is essential that you arrange initial consultations with them. This will give you an opportunity to ask your questions and evaluate determine whether they are a good fit for your case.
Your initial consultation also gives you an opportunity to decide how comfortable you feel speaking to them. They might have lots of great experience, but if you don’t feel that you can speak openly with them without being judged, then they are not the right match for your case.
It is essential that you get on with them well, feel comfortable, and are confident that they are compassionate about your needs. Doing your research is important, but it is also important to trust your instincts and choose someone you like.
Step 9 – If You Aren’t Happy, Change Law Firms
Once you have made your decision, you may feel that you can’t change your mind, even if you have doubts about your attorney.
If you feel you have made the wrong choice, don’t be afraid to change your representation. While jumping between lawyers can be stressful and the decision must be made with great care, it also isn’t beneficial to stick with the same person when you feel that you made the wrong decision.
Step 10 – Contact Skillern Firm Today
Finding the right child custody lawyer for your case can feel overwhelming. It is essential that you choose an attorney who has the skills and experience necessary but who also takes the time to understand your needs and shares your values.
At Skillern Firm, we prioritize the needs of our clients, which are second only to the needs of their children. We will work tirelessly for a positive outcome in your case while also being prompt to answer your questions.
Arrange an initial consultation today and decide for yourself if we are the right fit.
Contact us today for your consultation with a Houston child custody lawyer at 936-213-8479.