It goes without saying that family is the most important aspect of our lives. When all goes well, our spouses, our children, our parents, and our siblings fill the air with love, which we breathe deeply to replenish our spirits. Just as we breathe without conscious thought, our lives fall into a comfortable routine that makes us unaware of the integral role that a loving, supportive family plays in our lives. All too often, the dawning realization that our self-concept is firmly tied to our family comes only when the bubble bursts. When, for whatever cause, we're faced with divorce, child custody battles, and in the worst instances, domestic violence or child abuse.
When family matters move from unhappiness at home to a court of law, it's important to have an advocate at your side, a family law attorney who will do whatever it takes to help you create a future where you feel whole and safe. Selecting the right attorney can make what is inevitably a difficult and heart-wrenching time a bit more bearable. While your attention is understandably devoted to getting through each day and keeping your children's world intact, he can devote his attention to ensuring that you come out of the process with both feet on the ground.
What should you look for in a family law attorney? First, select someone who has a family of his own. An attorney who is married and who has children will understand the high stakes and is more likely to work tirelessly on your behalf.
Second, ensure that the lawyer is flexible. Like snowflakes, no two divorces or child custody issues are the same. Some uncontested divorces, for example, are quite amicable, with child support willingly paid and visitation quickly arranged. Other breakups are much more complicated, and may involve everything from a refusal to pay spousal support to the inability to agree on grandparent visitation to disagreements on property division.
You need to have an advocate who will see your circumstances as unique, and who will work with you to achieve your goals. He should be experienced in negotiation and mediation, but he should also be able to demonstrate that he can successfully represent you in a courtroom, should your case go to trial or even to appeals. Third, if your divorce is related in any way to criminal law, such as in the case of domestic violence or child abuse, the attorney you select should be knowledgeable about that as well.
Finally, you should select a family law attorney with whom you feel comfortable. It's extremely difficult to share searing emotional pain, and it's often hard to articulate your vision of the future. The right lawyer will make it easier for you to open up, and will help guide you through the process of defining your immediate needs - say, for alimony - and your future needs, such as the possibility that a future marriage may potentially lead to adoption issues.
When you choose the attorney that's right for you, he can help make an extraordinarily painful time in your life much easier to bear.