Meeting with a child custody lawyer for the first time be stressful and overwhelming. You likely have a lot of questions and concerns about your case. This initial consultation is an opportunity to expect during the legal process, understand your rights, and determine if this is the right attorney for you. They are lawyer you, your situation, and your goals. Expect them to ask about your relationship with your child’s other parent, and your current custody arrangement, and to seek legal help. Be prepared to give a brief overview of your situation so the lawyer determines if and how they to help.
A child custody lawyer attorney will explain the legal process, the different types of custody agreements, and what strategy they recommend for your particular circumstances. Joint custody, split custody, sole physical and legal custody, visitation rights, and modifications to existing orders are all options you’ll discuss. The lawyer will outline what they realistically achieve based on the facts of your case.
Voice any pressing concerns you have about your child’s well-being or safety. Bring up issues like frequent long-distance travel, relocation requests, or if the other parent is uncooperative and hard to work with. Special circumstances like domestic violence, substance abuse, and high parental conflict need to be addressed early on.
Facts matter in family court. Your attorney will ask you to provide any evidence you have that could help your case like police reports, medical records, school documents, and text messages. Developing a strong evidence trail takes time so your lawyer will get the process started right away.
While there are no guarantees in family court, a good lawyer will give you an honest assessment of the potential case outcomes. They may discuss the likelihood of settling versus going to trial, the typical custody arrangements in your jurisdiction, and what would be considered a “win” in your situation.
Find out how the attorney prefers to communicate with clients – phone calls, emails, text messages, etc. Agree on the response time you anticipate for non-emergency inquiries. Make sure you understand who else in the office may be working on your case besides the lead attorney.
Before concluding the initial meeting, you and your lawyer should agree on the next steps. It may include signing a retainer agreement, paying the initial fees, gathering documentation, filling out forms, attending mediation or hearings, or setting up follow-up meetings. Having an action plan provides direction on what you need to do to move your case forward. The first meeting sets the tone for your relationship with your child custody lawyer. Take full advantage of the opportunity to educate them about your situation and priorities. The lawyer’s role is to inform you about the legal process, strategize how to present the most compelling case and represent your best interests related to your children.