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Questions to Ask When Hiring a Child Custody Lawyer in Chicago

If parents cannot agree on a parenting plan during a custody dispute, the courts can order either sole or joint child custody in Chicago. That decision is based on the national standard of the courts to make decisions based on what is in the best interests of the child. If you’re involved in a child custody dispute, you should hire a lawyer.

Before hiring an attorney, schedule an initial consultation. An initial consultation is a meeting where you can ask questions about your Chicago custody rights, a lawyer’s fees, case management style and experience. The purpose of the meeting is to get to know the lawyer, familiarize him with your case and decide whether to hire the lawyer. To make that decision, you want to ask a lot of questions during the initial consultation.

This article suggests many questions that will help you hire the right lawyer for your needs. You don't need to ask all of them. Instead, focus on those that help you select an attorney. And feel free to add questions of your own.

Before the Initial Consultation Takes Place

Prepare for the initial consultation so you don’t waste your time or the attorney’s time.

  • Summarize your case in writing before meeting the lawyer.
  • Gather any important documents that pertain to your case and bring them to the meeting.
  • Compile a list of questions to ask the lawyer.
  • Bring writing materials to the meeting to take notes.

Learning about Child Custody in Chicago

During the initial consultation, ask the potential lawyer questions to ensure they can properly handle your case. Sample questions include the following:

  • How is child custody determined?
  • Could you explain the process for handling a child custody case?
  • What is your suggsted strategy for handling my child custody case?
  • What are the potential outcomes to my case?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of my case?
  • What types of child custody are available?
  • What types of visitation are available for non-custodial parents?
  • How common is Chicago joint custody?
  • Who establishes child visitation schedules?
  • Do grandparents have any child custody rights?
  • Who pays child support?
  • How is child support calculated?
  • How long do child custody cases take?
  • Will I have to go to court or are there any other ways to resolve my case?

Billing Fees

Legal fees can add up. Learn how a lawyer bills for service before retaining one. Key billing questions include:

  • What type of fee arrangement do you have?
  • What’s included in the attorney’s fee?
  • What other fees will I have to pay for?
  • Can you tell me how much my child custody case will cost?
  • Will you put our fee arrangement in writing?
  • How often will I be billed?
  • Do I have to pay a deposit?

Case Management Questions

The following questions will help you better understand a lawyer’s process for handling a child custody case.

  • Will you handle all aspects of my child custody case or will other people in your firm be helping you?
  • Who will handle the research, case preparation and court work for my case?
  • If other people are working on my case, what are their qualifications?
  • Who will be making court appearances?
  • Who should I contact if I have any questions?
  • When are you available for meetings?
  • How often will I be updated about my case?
  • Will I receive copies of all correspondence related to my case?
  • What’s the best way to reach you?
  • How long will it take you to get back to me if I Ieave you a message?

Experience Questions

It’s important to ask lawyers about their legal experience and knowledge of child custody law. Taking time to learn about a lawyer’s background will also help you pinpoint the right attorney. Key experience questions include:

  • How long have you been a child custody lawyer?
  • Do you concentrate on child custody cases or do you also practice other types of law?
  • Where did you earn your law degree?
  • How many years have you been a child custody lawyer?
  • Have you ever handled a child custody case such as mine?
  • Do you have a list of references that I could call?

After the Initial Consultation

Take time to assess the initial consultation after the meeting is over. Weigh the pros and cons of working with an attorney and his firm. Questions to ask yourself include:

  • Is the child custody lawyer available to help you?
  • Did you understand what the lawyer was talking about?
  • Did the lawyer answer questions openly and directly?
  • What did you like or dislike about the attorney?
  • Are you OK with the legal fees he charges?
  • Does the lawyer have sufficient experience to help you win your case?
  • Could you access the law firm easily?
  • Was parking or public transportation available near the law office?

If you cannot decide on an attorney, call the references provided. Ask former clients if they were happy with how the lawyer handled their case. In addition, ask if they would hire the attorney again.

Before hiring an attorney, make sure you are comfortable with them. Remember, there are no wrong questions when it comes to hiring a lawyer.