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Factors to Consider When Selecting a Chicago Child Custody Attorney

In Chicago, child custody proceedings establish guardianship, child support and visitation rights. The court helps make these decisions based on what’s in the best interests of the child. Contentious Chicago divorce and child custody issues can be resolved with help from an attorney who concentrates his practice on family law issues.

When it comes to establishing child custody, protect yourself by hiring a child custody attorney. A lawyer can advise you of the pros and cons related to your child custody proceeding. The lawyer will inform you of your rights and responsibilities for raising your child. An attorney is also your advocate and will help negotiate an agreement toward child custody.

Before hiring a child custody attorney, you should schedule an initial consultation. An initial consultation is a meeting to get to know the lawyer and tell him about your custody situation. Your goal at the meeting is to decide if you’d like to hire the attorney. During the initial consultation, you should assess the lawyer on a number of key issues, including his experience, suggested strategy for your case, fees for services and your overall comfort level with the attorney.

The Chicago Child Custody Attorney’s Experience

During your initial consultation with an attorney, one of the first essential elements to evaluate is their experience dealing with child custody matters. You want a lawyer who understands the legal issues pertaining to child custody.

Be proactive and find out how many years a lawyer has been a practicing child custody attorney. Review the lawyer’s biography on his law firm’s website. Question the lawyer to make sure he knows the legal issues surrounding your child custody case.

You can also see if the lawyer is a member of any associations, such as American Bar Association. In addition, take into consideration the lawyer’s familiarity with other players in the child custody arena, including judges, mediators and counselors. A good lawyer should be respected within the child custody courts.

The Billing Rates

Next review how the lawyer charges for his services. Most Chicago child custody attorneys charge an hourly rate because custody cases can be complicated and take a long time. Some attorneys may charge a flat fee for more straightforward cases. It’s not unusual for child custody lawyers to also require a retainer, or upfront deposit.

Look at the total estimated cost of the child custody proceeding. Do the prices seem fair? Are there any out-of-pocket costs? Then decide if you can afford the child custody lawyer.

The Strategy

Then analyze the advice each lawyer provided regarding your child custody proceeding. Determine if you are comfortable with the lawyer’s proposed strategy for handling your case.

Ask yourself questions such as:

  • Did the lawyer set realistic goals for your case?
  • Did he tell you what will happen in court?
  • Did he detail the potential outcomes of your child custody case?
  • Did the lawyer answer your questions?

If the lawyer failed to answer any questions you had during the initial consultation or did not sufficiently answer any follow-up questions, consider other child custody attorneys.

Your Impression

After you’ve assessed the lawyer’s experience, billing rates and proposed strategy for handling your child custody case, use your intuition to select the right lawyer.

Did the attorney sufficiently explain what will happen during the child custody proceeding? Do you trust the lawyer and his associates? Are you comfortable with him? The answer should be yes, because you may be working with him for a while.

The Decision

After reviewing all child custody attorneys’ qualifications, call the references if you need a second opinion. You can also call or email the attorney again if you have additional questions. A lawyer that gets back to you in a timely manner is someone you may want to work with.

Remember that in Chicago, child custody guidelines are established by the courts to determine what’s in the best interests of the child. So hire an attorney to serve as your advocate in your child custody case.