This is potentially one of the most important decisions that you will make if custody becomes contested or access starts being violated.
I cannot stress this more strongly.
I, unfortunately, went on a recommendation and landed a lawyer that just reacted. We cannot in the main expect lawyers to be pro-active, after all, they have other clients. But I now expect a lawyer to be pro-active in so far as they suggest different courses of action leading to a pre-defined and agreed goal.
For instance, much later down the line I (Yes, me a person who did not study law, but computer science!) had to tell my lawyer of a court-supported possibility (a court-appointed social worker Umgangspfleger who picks the children up to avoid confrontation between the parents, and to ensure the wishes of the court regarding visitation rights are being fulfilled. He or she has sole custody for the time) that had existed in German family law for more than a year. She as a lawyer practising in family law should have known this. I was told later by a more competent lawyer that this opportunity should have been applied two years previously. Needless to say the judge did not suggest it.
So how to find a lawyer? I found my second lawyer, who was competent and had won previous highly argumentative cases through reading about such cases. If I had her as my lawyer from the start I am convinced things would look very different now.
I found her through a father’s help group – simple as that. She specialised in problem cases and was a known quantity with a visible track record.
So the bottom line in a complex situation can be boiled down to the following: Your lawyer should bring the following:
- Have a track record of bringing things successfully to closure, not playing for time to increase the bill!
- Be able to articulate possible scenarios and act on them
Your ex will try and drag things out as long as possible, time is the best weapon she has when trying to alienate the children from the non-resident parent. It should be the task of your lawyer to see through this and to react accordingly and timely.
Also be aware that this is not a one-way street. You have to be active as well. Even though my lawyer was very competent I still had to ring her to check that she had sent that letter, or made a phone call. I also had to be aware of the fundamentals of family law. Dumping it all on her desk and expecting it to miraculously sort itself out frankly won’t work.
You cannot outsource the fight for your children (unless you are rich of course). You will have to understand what the law is, and what it can give. Moral statements such as “That’s not right” are irrelevant in a family law case. What counts is the law and its application. The ‘winner’ will have read the rule book, and understand the basic rules of the ‘game’.
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