According to one survey conducted in Australia, about 132 marriages end in a divorce every single day. Most of these divorces involve young children, which, needs to be the first priority for every conscientious parent. Sure, the divorce rate amongst couples with children is about 40 percent lower, yet, this doesn’t deny the fact that, for a child, a good divorce (traumatic as it is) can be much better than a bad marriage. With this in mind, it’s your sacred duty as a parent to fight for the rights of your favorite minor, so here are five tips for finding a child custody attorney that will help you get there.
1. Look for word of mouth (WOM) referrals
The greatest problem with online advertising lies in the fact that you can’t really know for sure if the person in question is really giving an honest review. On the other hand, when getting a recommendation from a person you know, this bears an entirely different weight. First of all, while Australian marriages may seem a bit more resilient than the rest of the western world (where divorce rates of 50 percent are a common occurrence) a chance of 1 in 3 is still not something to be trifled with.
That being said, you need to keep in mind that this also may come off as a relatively good thing in your case (the fortune in misfortune type of scenario). After all, this means that you personally know someone who already got divorced. Since 47 percent of all divorces involve children under 18 years of age, there’s also a fair chance that they had to fight a battle of custody. In other words, they have a personal experience or, at very least, know someone with personal experience in this field.
2. Look for locals
Even if you’re merely interested in online discourse with the legal firm in question, it’s always the best to stick to the locals. Why? Well, because custody laws are different all over the globe and you need someone knowledgeable and efficient in Australian law. Therefore, when searching for tips online, make sure to get advice from Australian family lawyers, instead of extending your search to the rest of the globe. Think about it, while a lawyer from New York or Hong Kong may be at the top of their game, there’s no guarantee that their advice will be applicable to your own situation. Plus, the option of actually hiring this agency you’ve consulted, later on, might act as no short of a deal-breaker.
3. Talk to them in person
It’s easy making a website boasting of your success rate, trying to find the essence between a myriad of unnecessary statistics, however, before you decide to hire, you need to have the talk in person. For this to work, nevertheless, you need to know what to ask beforehand and stick to the list. First, start by examining their personality, seeing as how a custody attorney that lacks empathy might not be able to understand all the peculiarities revolving around your situation.
Once you’re past this tactical small talk, you can move on to some more tangible questions, like previous experiences with cases resembling yours. As for the financial standpoint of your arrangement, you need to check the fee structure or the way in which your attorney is going to charge for their services (retainer or per hour). Furthermore, you should probably look for an attorney providing a free consultation, seeing as how this might be necessary to access some of the above-listed information from as many sources as possible.
4. Investigate their online reputation
Earlier on, we might have seemed a bit dismissive towards the idea of finding a lawyer based only on their online reputation, however, this is not necessarily the best course of action. After all, the friend who referred or tarnished a certain attorney or law firm might have been a sole example of either exemplary work or a major flop. Sure, there’s no way of knowing if people online are 100 percent honest, yet, sometimes you can find safety in numbers. A single negative review, when compared to hundreds praising a company can be quite revealing as a criterion.
Furthermore, you don’t actually have to talk to a neighbor face-to-face in order to get a genuine, personal estimation of one company’s performance. For instance, you can post your question on a local forum and wait for responses. The chance that you’ll get a reply by a bot is not that great, however, even if this does happen, you’re bound to get dozens of genuine comments either supporting or contradicting it. In this way, you get a bit more proactive way of finding out the truth.
5. A skilled negotiator
As always, it’s definitely for the best to handle this outside of court, if in any way possible. Not traumatizing a child is just one of the perks of this approach (albeit the most important one). However, you need to understand that a skill of your attorney to make a compelling pro-settlement choice may determine everyone’s quality of life in the long run. In other words, you need someone capable of talking sense into the opposing party, rather than impressing the judge or being too technical in their statement. This might be something that a keen observer may recognize during the above-discussed interview.
Finally, while you can use low-blows in order to strip your former spouse of their custody, you need to ask yourself a single question – is this in the best interest of my child? Hiring an unethical lawyer, one that will fill your head with such suggestions while you’re in a brittle emotional state may be the single worst thing you ever did. In fact, it might come back to become an error that will be there to haunt you for the rest of your life or even completely ruin your relationship with the kid further down the line. In other words, it’s simply not worth it and it’s a horrible thing to do to a child. In other words, as a parent, it’s your responsibility to put the child’s best interest first, regardless of your own needs.