Do you have an upcoming appointment at a family law office for a custody case? Child custody cases are perhaps the most contentious part of family law due to there being so much at stake. Should you proceed with child custody litigation, you are seeking solutions for the present and the future. Navigating current visitation and custodial rights will also shape the relationships you and other family members will have with your child.
Making the Choice to Go to a Lawyer
A parent might pursue custody of their child for several reasons. Some parents seek sole custody because of the incredible emotional attachment they have with their child. Others do so because of issues regarding the fitness and stability of the other parent. It’s important to focus on what the best interests of the child or children are as well.
While some parents are capable of negotiating custody disputes among themselves, not everyone can get through such a serious conflict on their own. If you are reading this, chances are that communication has broken down, and you are in need of outside help. That’s where a family law attorney comes in.
Preparing for Your First Visit to a Family Law Office
Your attorney will ask a long series of questions about your child’s relationship with the other parent, your relationship with that parent, and other aspects of your personal life. These questions will give your attorney a good overall understanding of where things sit and what he or she needs to do to help you achieve your custody goals.
To best prepare for this conversation, gather the following documents and bring them with you on your first visit to the law office:
- A prenuptial agreement, if it exists, and any separation agreements.
- Information about the education and work history of both yourself and the other parent.
- A copy of your household budget paired with income. Include a detailed breakdown of all child-related expenses.
- If the other parent has ever been emotionally or physically violent with you or your child, bring any documentation supporting those claims. These documents might include medical or police reports, outcry witnesses or voiced concerns by a third-party, such as a teacher.
- If the child’s other parent has alcohol, drug or similar addictions, bring any proof or evidence you might have. Proof could include police reports or receipts proving excessive purchases.
- If the other parent is suggesting a move to a new school, gather evidence from teachers or report cards showing a need for stability.
Mentally Prepare Yourself
Don’t let the attorney be the only one asking questions.
Remember, this is the most important case you will ever take on, as its outcome will determine the shape of your child’s future and your relationship with them. It is important to collect your thoughts and prepare yourself to get as much information as you can from your attorney at the onset.
Consider the following good topics to focus on when it is your turn to ask questions. Write your example questions based on these themes before you leave for your first consultation.
- Ask how child custody and visitation laws work in Georgia.
- Include questions about the attorney’s background and experience. Consider asking specifically about any recent cases like your own. What problems did they encounter? How long did the process take? How well did the attorney meet the client’s custody goals?
- Ask about the “nuts and bolts” details of how the law firm will handle your child custody case.
- Ask for suggestions on possible strategies and things you can do to expedite the process.
- Ensure the lawyer has no conflict of interest. To do so, bring a list of people who may testify on your behalf (or you anticipate testifying against you) to ensure they don’t represent anyone on the opposite side.
- What the legal fees are and when are they due?
The Q&A of Family Law Consultation
Now that you have all your documents gathered and your mind is in order, you are finally ready for that first consultation.
The primary thing you can expect from your first meeting is an extensive Q&A session. Your attorney will ask a lot of important questions to learn as much as they can about you, your child and the child’s other parent. They need to do this to get a good understanding of the psychological and financial situation, which helps them initiate casework and make any referrals to other professionals for specific advice. Answer these questions honestly, and be clear about your ideal outcomes and what you are willing to negotiate.
Do you need help with your child custody case? Call (770) 475-2521 for a free consultation.