A great family life is something that is essential to maintain happiness, a healthy outlook on life, and generally leads to happier outcomes for children and adults alike. Unfortunately, not all families are perfect. Some families experience neglect, abuse, and more often nowadays divorce. In fact, in the United States today, 42-45 percent of marriages end in divorce. This isn’t always a bad thing, however. Divorce gives couples the opportunity to separate amicably and with some compensation if they are entitled to it. But what happens with there are children involved? Complicated assets? Other legal factors such as abuse?
An attorney that is well rounded in family law and adoption can help you, or someone you know, if you are currently fighting a divorce, adoption, or another family case. With the help of a good attorney they know family law well, you can be sure it will be easier to get through this trying time with a good support system. A family lawyer can help in not only getting you through your divorce, custody battles, restraining orders, and other factors, but can also be an integral part of helping you get back on your feet after the battle is over. There are certain qualities you should look for in a family lawyer in order to ensure your success. These are 15 qualities to look for in a great family lawyer that you could use to help you. Though a good judge of character and reputation will always be number one, these 15 tips aren’t too shabby, and can help guide you in making the right choice for your family law and adoption case.
One of the biggest legal matters family lawyers deal with are matters of divorce. It’s important to find a lawyer skilled in family law and adoption that remains unbiased and is not sexist towards one gender or the other. This is highly important, as you do not want to have a lawyer that will be willing to belittle your spouse and make the divorce even more complicated. Fortunately, most lawyers are highly skilled, professional, and work with all sexes, genders, and types of people in the public every day. Lawyers must also pass a national bar exam as well as undergo extensive background checks before getting their license. However, you can never be too safe when choosing a lawyer, and looking at your future attorney’s values, ethics, and their opinion of others is a good indicator of how he or she will treat you and your family during the divorce or other legal process.
2. Familiar with State Law
Lawyers are licensed within their state, and your local state agency can let you know if your lawyer is licensed to practice in your particular state. Besides being licensed, it’s important to have a lawyer that has had experience practicing family law and adoption in your particular state, as these laws vary widely. For instance, it’s a myth that adultery will lead to automatic alimony for the injured party. In New Jersey, for instance, this is not the case. Having a lawyer that has had experience at least working with a law firm, if not a native of your state, is all the more important then to have the best chances of winning your case.
3. Knows the Adoption Process in your State
As mentioned, an incredible amount of legal processes vary from state to state. Adoption is no exception. The American Academy of Adoption Attorneys can help you find a lawyer that is licensed within your state and has knowledge of the adoption process there. The processes regarding intercountry and moving adoptions, adopting from foster care, and other factors all are important to consider when hiring a lawyer to help in your family law and adoption process. You might be on the other side of this scenario as well, and finding a lawyer to help you put a child up for adoption is also important.
4. Knowledgeable in International Adoption
Trips, referral times, fees, parent’s ages, and other costs associated with international adoptions all vary from country to country. When adopting out of the country, you should make sure to look for a lawyer that is well-versed in international adoption. You can work with your provincial or territorial adoption Central Authority. Here, they will tell you if you need to contact a licensed adoption agency to help you with your family law and adoption process.
5. Experience as a Counselor
Lawyers must fight tooth and nail for their clients, such as yourself. This includes clients that are going through divorce, abuse, neglect, and trauma just to name a few. Family lawyers, unlike other attorneys, should have some experience in the non-profit sector or working with impacted communities such as women, children, and those with low-income backgrounds. This makes a lawyer ready and familiarized with the legal battles these communities face before practicing law themselves. When you have a lawyer that is experienced in these fields, and has the right touch with people, you’ll be sure your time being understood and supported throughout your case will be all the more easier.
6. A Good Detective
As mentioned above, lawyers that work in family law and adoption oftentimes have to do a little detective work to support your case. For example, a divorce attorney must do background work to prove allegations of abuse, illegal financial matters, and even help you file for a restraining order to help you during your divorce proceedings. Without having a good detective as a family lawyer, it will be impossible to have all the evidence to support your divorce in front of a judge. This could in turn affect the amount of alimony you receive, the amount of assets you are entitled to, and even child custody. Don’t risk these factors, and hire a lawyer that is a good investigator.
7. Great with Children
During your divorce proceedings, your family will feel the stress and struggle of splitting the home, assets, and more importantly custody. Because of this, your lawyer should be adequately equipped to handle your children’s many emotions, and not exacerbate the negative situation you are in. This is also important not just for a custody lawyer, but a family lawyer you might want to hire to seek emancipation as a minor. Whether you are the child in this situation, representing a child, or are simply a mother or father in desperate need help, hiring a lawyer that is great with children is essential.
8. Passionate in Arguing for You
Just like doctors in family medicine practices must be passionate about saving the lives of their patients, a lawyer must be passionate about arguing for your case in front of a judge. Just like they must do detective work to support your case, a lawyer must also present all the details and make a compelling argument for your rights. Whether your spouse hid money from you, you’re a foster parent seeking to adopt, or a boyfriend looking to get a restraining order, your lawyer must have the verbal intercommunication skills to stir a judge to grant you what you’re rightfully entitled to.
9. Great Mediators
During divorce proceedings, it might be difficult to get your spouse to work with you on certain issues, such as dividing assets and custody time. As a lawyer practicing family law and adoption, it’s important to be a good mediator for especially rough cases. One famous case of mediating at its finest was a couple splitting their expensive collection of collectible stuffed dolls, one by one! This is just an example of the complex issues that must be sorted out by a good family lawyer. If you find yourself unable to speak to your spouse and reason with them, or as simple to scared to argue for yourself, hiring a lawyer to do the mediating for you is key. This helps not only speed up your case, but keep the peace as well.
10. Understands your Situation
Not only do complex asset divisions complicate a case, but certain outside factors can impact your case. For instance, if you made a mistake and put your child in danger and now have to fight for custody rights, or an adult guardian with a criminal history looking, all these past details can hinder your ability to win your case. As unfortunate as it is, mistakes happen, and are unavoidable. However, having a lawyer that is understanding of your situation, whatever your past may be, will help you get your confidence for your case and make you assured they will fight for you no matter what.
11. Knowledgeable in Estates and Wills
A good lawyer that works in family law and adoption is well-rounded in all family issues, including those at the end of life. If you hire a lawyer to review your loved one’s will, it’s important to hire an attorney that understands how to navigate and investigate all potential aspects of probate. For instance, where does one look for hidden assets? How do you divide the inheritance fairly and what is the specific wording in a will that will prevent you from accepting your inheritance? A good family lawyer will help solve all these issues and more.
12. Timely in Filing
With things such as probate, adoption paperwork, and restraining orders, it’s essential to have a lawyer that is timely in filing the appropriate paperwork. Family lawyers must be in constant communication with anyone involved in the case, from you to your family doctor, to your pediatric dentist if need be! Without proper timing and proper communication skills, you miss filing on deadlines that are crucial in moving your case forward.
13. Knowledgeable in Medicine
Having an empathetic, professional, and timely lawyer are all common sense for the most part. But what about knowledge in medicine? This is especially important for lawyers arguing for cases that involve some sort of medical issue. For instance, battling for custody for a child that needs medical care, but only one parent has the resources could be a big issue. What about arguing during the divorce of someone undergoing hormone replacement therapy and what rights that have in their state? Having a lawyer that is knowledgeable in not only legal proceedings, but also at the very least medical situations will help you argue and speed up your legal case.
14. Can Give Resources
Lawyers that work with you during family law and adoption proceedings won’t be with you all hours of the day. Though they may offer some empathy during your case, a good lawyer can help put you in touch with resources on top of the help you might receive from your state or local county. For example, getting you to help with seeing proper psychologists to prove cases of abuse, medical help, even where to obtain crib sheets if you find yourself strapped for infant or child resources are all helpful. Lawyers, whether referred to you by a local agency or hired out of pocket, should and will be able to help you find the right resources for help.
15. Knows the Judge
Many times proceedings such as divorce, the divorce goes uncontested by both parties and a marital settlement agreement is filed. This makes it so that the spouses may not need to go to court at all! It would be great if this happened all the time, but some cases might not be so lucky. In addition to all the above mentioned great qualities of a family lawyer, a good lawyer should also be knowledgeable on certain judges. Though bribing is out of the question, certain judges take more to cases with specific evidence, arguments, and show certain mannerisms. Only an experienced lawyer will know these specifics, and this will help seal the nail in the coffin for winning your case.
Whether you’re finding a family lawyer to help you in family law and adoption, interpret your will, or file for divorce, the situations range from ecstatic to unfortunate. A good family lawyer with the above 15 traits will help you not only be confident in winning your case, but also help you in remaining cool and collected throughout your legal process. Staying strong, filing all paperwork, and working with your lawyer is all up to you, but rest assured a good lawyer is half the battle.