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What to Expect When Meeting With a Custody Lawyer

Meeting with an attorney can feel intimidating. Check out this article to find out what you can expect when meeting with a custody lawyer.

In the United States, parents settle 91% of child custody cases outside of court. This means the parents can come to an agreement that works for them without getting a judge involved.

Whether you can settle outside of court or not, it’s always important to have a custody lawyer by your side. A professional attorney will help you reach your custody goals while keeping the child’s best interest in mind.

Keep reading to learn what to expect from an initial meeting with a custody lawyer.

Provide Details of Your Case

During your meeting with a custody lawyer, you will converse about your case. This initial meeting can take time because you need to provide as many details as possible.

The attorney will listen and ask questions to guide the conversation. Some of the questions you might be asked are:

  • What is your relationship with the child?
  • What is the other parent’s relationship with the child?
  • What is the current custody arrangement?
  • Have there been past legal disputes related to the child?

The exact specifics of the conversation will depend on your case. Child support and custody options are common topics in a child custody case.

Your attorney will tell you about the options available to you. You can go to court and allow a judge to make the final decision. You can also use mediation services to resolve matters without a judge.

A family law attorney will tell you the pros and cons of each option based on the information you provide about your case.

Is the Situation an Emergency?

If the situation is an emergency that could harm your child morally, mentally, emotionally, or physically, tell your lawyer exactly what’s happening. They can decide if an immediate hearing is necessary.

If there is time to wait, the case will proceed through the normal due process service. This allows the other party to receive notice and retain their own attorney.

If the attorney deems this an emergency, they can work to get in front of the judge without the notice. The more information you provide about the urgency of the situation, the more a lawyer can help.

Ask Questions

During your meeting with a lawyer, you can ask questions. Bring a list of questions already written out so you don’t forget to ask anything important.

Some of the essential questions you should ask are:

  • What are your fees?
  • Will you be the attorney working on my case?
  • How long have you practiced this area of the law?
  • What are the options for my case?

Your allotted time to ask questions is important. A child custody case might be a slow process, like the process of divorce.

It’s best to feel comfortable with the lawyer you choose to work with throughout the timeline. Asking the right questions can help you figure out your comfort level with a certain lawyer.

Necessary Paperwork

During the initial lawyer consultation, you should bring any non-legal paperwork relevant to your case. This can help the lawyer understand the details of your situation better.

If you have a pending court case or were served with papers, bring these legal forms to your consultation. An attorney can help you enforce or change an existing court order. They will need a copy of the order to help.

If the other parent has a history of domestic abuse or substance abuse, bring evidence of this as well. Evidence is important because of the burden of proof in a domestic violence situation.

The prosecutor has to prove the domestic violence beyond a reasonable doubt which is more difficult than having a preponderance of evidence.

Coming up with a custody agreement after facing a divorce is common. If you have any divorce paperwork, bring this to the consultation.

Medical and education records related to your child are also helpful. Remember, the more information you can provide, the better a lawyer can advise you.

If you aren’t sure if something is going to be helpful to the case, bring it anyway and let a lawyer take a look at it.

Fees and Agreement

At the meeting, you can expect the lawyer to provide you with their fees and payment agreement. Attorneys present fees differently based on their practice.

Generally, you’ll receive a paper spelling out the fees you will be charged for. The agreement will also outline the responsibilities that you and the lawyer have regarding legal representation.

An ethical attorney will put their fees and expenses in writing so there is no confusion. They will also set the scope of the representation so that you’ll know what to expect throughout the process.

Knowing what your attorney is doing and how you’ll be charged are keys to a great attorney-client relationship.

The Child’s Best Interest

A custody lawyer follows legal standards to guide decisions related to visitation and custody. The child’s best interest is a standard that courts use to evaluate and determine what is best for the child.

When you meet with a lawyer, they can explain this legal concept to you. They will also always act in the best interest of the child.

When parents can’t agree on custody and visitation, the courts evaluate certain factors to determine the best arrangement. Some of those factors include:

  • Age and gender of the child
  • The child’s relationship with each parent
  • Each parent’s ability to provide for the child
  • The child’s educational needs
  • History of domestic violence or substance abuse

If the child is old enough to express their preferences, the court will consider this as well. If you know what your child prefers, this is a good thing to mention to your lawyer.

Meet With a Custody Lawyer Today

A custody lawyer can provide specific advice when given helpful and accurate information about your case. Bring any documents and evidence that can help the attorney understand your situation.

Ask the right questions and be ready to answer questions. If you want to hire a lawyer after the consultation, have them provide you with a written fee agreement.

At Heartland Law Office, PC, we take the best interest of your child very seriously. We specialize in custody law and can help you with your case. Request a case evaluation to get started now.