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How to Select a Los Angeles Custody Lawyer

If you and your partner have minor children together and are either divorcing or are no longer together, you will want to hire a Los Angeles custody lawyer.

You may not have hired a lawyer in the past. This article will explain the importance of investigating Los Angeles child custody attorneys and help you understand how to select the right Los Angeles custody attorney for you and your case.

The Los Angeles Custody Process

Ideally, you and your child's other parent will come to a mutual agreement regarding child custody, child support and parental visitation. In fact, it is to your benefit to come to this agreement prior to trial since trial can be both lengthy and expensive.

Your Los Angeles custody attorney can help you negotiate with your spouse outside of court to come to an agreement regarding child custody. This will help expedite the divorce process. It will also save you the fees associated with going to trial.

However, if there is no agreement between the two parties, the court will use its discretion to establish a custody order as part of the Los Angeles divorce.

In making this determination, the court will consider a number of factors, including:

  • The health, safety and welfare of the child
  • A history of abuse by one parent
  • The nature and amount of contact with both parents
  • Drug or alcohol use of parents

Qualities to Look for in a Los Angeles Custody Attorney

Because custody law is not the same throughout the country, you will want to find a lawyer with specific experience in Los Angeles. And because not all lawyers have experience with custody law, you will want to find one who has worked on custody cases for some time.

If possible, you may want to search for a Los Angeles child custody attorney who is familiar with the Los Angeles family court system. It may be helpful if your lawyer has argued cases before a particular judge in the past as well.

You will also want to find a lawyer who charges reasonable legal fees. Different lawyers may use different types of fee arrangements. In general, there are two types of fee arrangements that are used in child custody cases.

The first is the hourly rate. This means that you pay the lawyer for the amount of time he works on your case. Lawyers who charge hourly usually bill in six- or 15-minute increments. This means that if a lawyer charges $400 an hour and takes three minutes to write an e-mail, the lawyer who charges in 15-minute increments would bill you $100, while the lawyer who charges in 6-minute increments will bill you $40.

The second type of fee arrangement is the flat fee. This means that you pay a single agreed-upon fee to the attorney for his services. However, it is important that you ask if other expenses, such as filing fees, are included in the flat fee. You also should ask how and when the lawyer would like to receive payment.

You will also want to find a lawyer whose legal strategy seems reasonable. Ask the attorney questions about your case, and see if his response makes sense to you. If you have any questions, he should be able to answer them patiently and thoroughly.

Finally, you will want to find a Los Angeles custody lawyer whom you feel comfortable speaking to. After all, you will be working closely with the lawyer for some time. It is important that you trust him.

Identifying Prospective Los Angeles Custody Lawyers

To identify prospective Los Angeles custody lawyers, you can first turn to family and friends. Ask if they have ever hired a Los Angeles custody lawyer before. If they have, ask them about their experience. If they liked working with the attorney, ask for a referral.

You can also use a site like Attorneys.com. Whether you live in Beverly Hills, Jefferson Park, Mission Hills or another part of Los Angeles, Attorneys.com can connect you with a lawyer in your area.

Begin the process by filling out the form on this site or calling 1-877-913-7222. After answering a few questions, Attorneys.com will connect you to at least one Los Angeles custody lawyer near you. The lawyer will contact you within two business days, or you can contact him at your own convenience.

Scheduling a Consultation

Once you have identified at least one attorney you are interested in, schedule an initial consultation. An initial consultation is the preliminary meeting where you can ask the attorney about his practice, talk to him about your custody case and decide whether to hire him.

You will want to come to the consultation with some questions prepared. These questions should focus on the attorney's practice, his case management, his fees and his legal strategy. Remember to bring pen and paper so you can take notes.

Questions you should consider asking the Los Angeles custody lawyer include:

  • How long has the attorney worked on Los Angeles custody cases?
  • Has he ever handled a case like yours?
  • What does he think of your case?
  • What type of fee arrangement does he use?
  • If you have a question for him, what is the best way to reach him? How long does it usually take for him to respond?

After the Consultation

Once you've met with one or more attorneys, you should be able to make an informed hiring decision. Review your notes to see which attorney is the best fit for your case.

However, if you are still having difficulty deciding on a lawyer, ask the attorneys for names of past clients who can serve as references. Contact these references and ask them about their experiences with the attorneys. Questions to ask include:

  • Did the lawyer return your messages promptly?
  • Did the lawyer answer all your questions to your satisfaction?
  • What did you think of the lawyer's experience?
  • What did you think of the lawyer's case strategy?
  • What did you think of the lawyer's legal fees?
  • Were you happy with the attorney and would you hire him again?

Once you have spoken to the references, make a hiring decision and move forward with the case.

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