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May 9, 2022
Qualities to Look for When Choosing A Child Custody Attorney

The State Bar of California is the largest in the country. The state has more than 194,562 active lawyers, 2,849 of those in Ventura. When fighting for control over parenting rights, stress is high. You need someone knowledgeable and competent. With so many to pick from, how do you choose the best Ventura child custody attorney?

The first step is making sure the lawyer concentrates their practice in this area. The second is to check their location. Someone who practices family law in the county holding jurisdiction will be familiar with the judges and local court procedures.

Once you have that narrowed down, schedule a consultation. We are going to share what to look for in a child custody attorney, so you know if they are the right counsel to handle your case.

1. Concentration in Family Law

Most family law practitioners handle divorce, custody, support, and visitation. They know all areas of law surrounding these four diverse but connected segments.

The State Bar of California certifies attorneys who go beyond normal licensing requirements to become specialists in their area of law. Certification is not a requirement to work exclusively in family law, nor does it guarantee the attorney you hire remains current.

The key to legal counsel that is current on family law is to ask about their continuing legal education (CLE) credits. California requires attorneys to obtain 25 CLE credits every 36 months. With constantly changing laws, that really isn’t sufficient.

You need someone who goes above and beyond the minimum to ensure they and their staff have the knowledge and education to provide the best representation possible. Carla L. Hartley puts forth that effort, reporting 93 hours of CLE on her last round.

The firm also requires all paralegals on staff to complete 15 hours of CLE per year, well beyond the state requirement of 4 hours in legal ethics every 36 months and 4 hours in either general or special areas of law every 24 months.

In addition to CLE credits, ask the attorney how many family law cases they handle. If their practice is 50% or more in this area, they likely have the expertise you need.

Do your homework by checking their client reviews. This can be done using online search tools such as Google, Avvo, and Yelp. They may also have a testimonial or review section on their website.

2.  Special Circumstances

Every battle over parenting is unique. If your case has complex issues, the best child custody attorney is one who has dealt with similar circumstances before. Special factors that affect a decision include:

  • Does the minor have special needs?
  • Is there domestic violence in the family?
  • Is there an interstate element to take into consideration?
  • Is the other parent a non-citizen who may flee to their home country?
  • Is the other parent in the military?
  • Is the other parent residing outside the United States?

You need a lawyer familiar with your particular issue and who knows how it affects physical and legal control, plus visitation arrangements.

3.  Accessibility

When choosing a child custody attorney in Ventura, you need to know that they are available to answer questions and attend court hearings. If it is a large firm, confirm they are the person who will negotiate and present your case in court.

Ask if they have other people on staff you should contact if they are not available. This may be a paralegal or legal assistant. They will be able to answer basic questions such as hearing procedures, accept evidence you need to drop off, and more.

4.  Compassion

When battling over parental control, both parties are highly emotional. You want a professional who understands the importance of your child’s well-being and knows how to present your case to the court.

Your lawyer will likely ask you to provide things that may support your case, such as the youngster’s school attendance reports, report cards, medical records (if excessive illness or injury), and more.

This is not to pry, it is to present to the court the status of these important aspects of a minor’s life. Your lawyer is showing an interest and putting together the best case possible.

You are looking at your case from an emotional standpoint. Your attorney needs to understand how difficult this is for you, but they also must view the situation from a legal standpoint. They will explain where you stand legally, what changes will better your position, and give you an honest opinion on the potential outcome.

5. Can Explain Factors of Custody

In California, there are several factors the court will consider when reviewing a case. Your attorney needs to be familiar with these. They will explain what they mean and their importance.

  • The minor’s health, welfare, and safety
  • A teenager’s older age—the court will consider the preference of an adolescent 14 years of age or older
  • An infant or toddler’s younger age—a nursing mother is likely to receive physical custody
  • Primary caregiver and parental bond
  • Substance abuse—using illegal drugs or abusing alcohol will negatively impact the decision
  • Domestic violence—allegations or history of domestic violence and its impact on the child’s safety
  • Separation from siblings, step-siblings, and half-siblings may cause youth emotional stress
  • Other individuals in the home—people with a criminal record, physical abuse, substance abuse
  • Stability and schedules—the goal is to not disrupt the home environment and schedule of minor’s activities

The court will consider any other factors impacting the well-being of young people, for example, a parent’s physical, mental, or emotional stability or home living conditions. Income does not impact the custodial determination; it only affects support decisions.

The court considers the best interest factors. This determination is made by looking at all of the above as a collective unit and deciding what most benefits the child.

California law does not provide either parent with “full custody.” A normal parenting plan includes legal decision-making, physical residency, and visitation. Legal and physical control may each be either “joint” or “sole.”

Your lawyer will decide what factors work for you when presenting your case to the court.

6.  Personality

You can have the best legal counsel, but if your personalities clash, it will not work. Not only do you need to know how to choose a child custody attorney, but you have to also know when to walk away.

You and your lawyer will be working closely to put together a case. The two of you don’t need to be best friends, but you do need to like and respect each other.

If during the consultation you find yourself upset because they are distracted, disorganized, dismissive, egotistical, or any other trait, they are not the professional for you. The lawyer is putting their best foot forward at the consultation. If you don’t like their behavior then, you won’t like it later.

This is the person who will be negotiating your case and presenting it to the judge. Make sure they can reflect the type of person you are when presenting your position.

The Best Ventura Child Custody Attorney

The best Ventura child custody attorney is familiar with the court process for determining parenting arrangements. This includes knowledge of the best interest factors and other areas impacting the court’s decision.

If you are in a custodial battle or contemplating a divorce, request a consultation with Hartley Lamas Et Al. We take the extra effort to stay current on family law and will fight to get the best arrangement for you and your family.

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