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Factors to Consider When Hiring a Portland Child Custody Lawyer

An Oregon child custody dispute can be one of the most emotional and legally important issues you may ever face. For that reason, you'll want to consider having a Portland child custody attorney on your side to act as your guide, advisor and advocate. If you've never before hired a child custody lawyer, this article explains several factors you should consider when deciding whom to hire.

Prior to hiring an attorney, schedule an initial consultation with the lawyer. This meeting is your chance to decide if the lawyer is the right person to handle your case. To help you make the decision, you'll want to discuss a number of topics with the lawyer. These include:

  • The lawyer's experience
  • The lawyer's assessment of your child custody case and proposed strategy for handling it
  • The lawyer's legal fees and the total estimated cost to handle your dispute

Based on these answers and the overall tone of the meeting, you'll also want to judge whether you trust the lawyer and have confidence in his skills.

The Portland Child Custody Lawyer's Experience

Different types of child custody cases will call for lawyers with different amounts and types of experience. For example, if you're having trouble enforcing your Portland child support orders, you probably don't want to hire an attorney who only has experience negotiating custody arrangements. Similarly, if you and your ex agree on the basics of the parenting plan, you probably don't need a lawyer who mainly handles contentious custody disputes.

As you talk to Portland child custody attorneys about their experience, focus on whether the lawyer has significant experience handling child custody issues similar to your own. If you're looking for a lawyer who focuses on a specific niche—such as a Portland mother's right's lawyer—you'll also want to take that into consideration.

The Portland Child Custody Attorney's Case Assessment & Proposed Strategy

You should explain your custody issue to a Portland child custody lawyer and ask for his assessment of your custody case. Describe your desired outcome. What are the strengths and weaknesses of your case? What is the most likely outcome? What are other possible outcomes? Are your goals realistic? What strategy does the lawyer propose to get to that desired outcome?

You need to decide whether the lawyer's assessment of your case and proposed strategy for resolving your custody dispute work for you. For example, if you want to have a positive and friendly long-term relationship with your child's other parent, a lawyer who has an aggressive, hardball approach may not help you achieve your goals.

The lawyer should also suggest goals that are reasonable and realistic. If, for example, you expect your child's other parent to have primary custody, you probably know that you'll have to pay child support. A lawyer who suggests you'll be able to avoid paying support is probably making unrealistic promises.

Legal Fees

Most child custody lawyers charge for their services in one of two ways: An hourly rate (where you pay for the time the lawyer actually works on your case) or a flat fee (where you pay an agreed-upon fee for the lawyer to perform specific tasks). Hourly rates are usually used for less predictable legal work, and flat fees are more common with straightforward cases.

If you have a specific budget going into the custody dispute, discuss it with your lawyer and determine whether he can work within your budget. If he can't, you will have to look for a different attorney.

It's important to remember, however, that you'll need to resolve your custody issues, even if the legal proceedings take longer than expected and cost more than you expected. A custody issue is a life-changing issue, and while cost is understandably a factor, it shouldn't be your primary consideration.

The Emotional Factors

You may be working with your Portland child custody lawyer for months or years, so it's important to hire someone you like and respect. You need to have confidence in your lawyer and feel comfortable trusting him with this important legal issue.

There aren't specific questions you can ask to decide whether you are comfortable with an attorney. Instead, you should focus on how he relates to you as you ask other questions about your custody dispute. Observe whether he gives you his full attention. Does he answer questions patiently and explain complex legal concepts?

Selecting a Portland Child Custody Attorney

Once you've met with each lawyer you're considering for your case, think back to these four factors. Which factors are more important to you? Which are less important? And which attorney seemed like the best fit? Once you've identified and hired that lawyer, you're ready to move forward with your Portland child custody case.