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A judge presides over two parents pulling a child in opposite directions in a courtroom. The child looks upset. An American flag is in the background, as a Chicago divorce lawyer observes the proceedings carefully.

Child Custody

Custody Attorney: How to Choose the Right Attorney For Your Cook County Custody Case

By Corri Fetman | June 14, 2023

Understanding the Custody Process

Before you take the first step of filing for custody and begin the process of getting the courts involved in your case, you should be fully aware of exactly what you are getting yourself into. I cannot tell you how many people walk blindly into the courtroom without having the slightest idea that they have just entered the ultimate snake-pit.

The Emotional Challenges of Custody Battles

Because there is no subject more emotional to parents than that of their beloved children, custody battles can turn ugly FAST. Contrary to popular belief and television, there are only two ways to end your case—you either settle the case and reach an agreement or you proceed to trial. No matter how much you may want to settle the case, the Judge cannot force the other parent to settle.

The Importance of an Experienced Attorney

That is the reason it is imperative that you hire an attorney that not only knows how to strategize, communicate, negotiate but also litigate if it is readily apparent that settlement is not in the stars.

Choosing an Attorney in Illinois Counties

When searching for a Cook County, Kane County or DuPage County custody attorney in Illinois, it is important to consider several qualities that can significantly impact the outcome of your case. Here are some important qualities to look for:

A. Experience:

Look for an attorney who has extensive experience in family law and specifically in custody cases. A seasoned attorney will have a deep understanding of the legal complexities involved in custody matters and will be better equipped to navigate the court system effectively. If an attorney has served as an Guardian Ad Litem (“GAL”) or Child Representative in Cook or DuPage County, Kane County or any other county, this is a huge benefit as well. This means the attorney will understand what the Judge and a GAL, if appointed, is looking for, how to prepare you and how to plan accordingly. This is extremely helpful and beneficial in any custody case.

B. Strategy:

Make sure that the attorney you interview will provide you with strategies in the case. In custody and divorce cases, the strategy changes frequently. Ask the attorney about their approach to handling cases similar to yours. Inquire about their strategies for achieving favorable outcomes and how they plan to leverage the strengths of your case. It is important to hire an attorney that will constantly change the strategy to leverage the case in your favor when at all possible. A skilled attorney should be able to provide a general outline of their proposed strategy.

C. Expertise in Custody Law:

Ensure that the attorney specializes in custody cases and has a solid understanding of Illinois custody laws. Each state has its own unique laws and regulations regarding child custody, so having an attorney who is well-versed in Illinois family law is crucial.

D. Communication Skills:

Effective communication is key in any legal matter, especially in custody cases where emotions can run high. Look for an attorney who is an excellent communicator, both verbally and in writing. They should be able to clearly explain legal concepts, options, and strategies to you and represent your interests persuasively in court. Communication skills also include responsiveness. Custody cases, more often than not, can be subject to emergencies because the well-being and safety of the children involved are of utmost importance. Emergencies may arise that require immediate intervention due to safety issues, domestic violence or a myriad of other issues. It is vital that you be able to communicate and receive responses from your attorney. Select your counsel wisely and make sure that your counsel is responsive.

E. Negotiation and Mediation Skills:

Custody cases often involve negotiations and potential mediation sessions between the parties involved. A skilled attorney should possess strong negotiation skills and the ability to advocate for your interests during settlement discussions. This can help you reach agreements without the need for lengthy court battles, which can be emotionally draining and costly. Many custody cases can be resolved through negotiation and settlement discussions. It is crucial to find an attorney with strong negotiation skills who can advocate for your interests effectively. A brilliant custody attorney will work towards finding mutually agreeable solutions while keeping the best interests of the child as the priority.

F. Consider the Attorney’s Resources and Network:

In complex cases, an attorney’s resources and network can play a crucial role. Ask about their access to expert witnesses, investigators, or other professionals who can strengthen your case. The resources and access to 604.10 evaluators and knowledge of the players are essential in any case as you do not want to end up with a poor choice. An experienced custody attorney should know how to select the best mediator, custody evaluator and GAL, if possible. This requires an extensive knowledge and experience level that will be evident if you inquire during the initial consultation.

G. Reputation and Track Record:

Research the attorney’s reputation and track record. Look for reviews, testimonials, or recommendations from previous clients. Additionally, consider their success rate in handling custody cases. A lawyer with a strong track record of achieving favorable outcomes for their clients may be more likely to deliver positive results for you as well.

H. Diligence and Attention to Detail:

Custody cases often involve intricate details and extensive documentation. A top-notch attorney pays close attention to detail, leaving no stone unturned in analyzing the facts of your case. They should be diligent in their research, ensuring that all relevant information is gathered and properly documented to build a strong legal strategy. This cannot be stressed enough as details are paramount in divorce, litigation, and custody cases.

I. Empathy and Understanding:

Dealing with custody matters can be emotionally challenging, and you’ll want an attorney who understands your unique situation and can empathize with your concerns. A compassionate attorney who is sensitive to your needs and supports you throughout the process can provide the reassurance and guidance you require during this difficult time.

Choosing the Right Attorney for Your Needs

Remember, these qualities are not exhaustive, and each custody case is unique. Ultimately, trust your instincts when making a decision. Choose an attorney with whom you feel comfortable and confident, as you will be working closely together on your case. Remember that finding the right attorney is a personal decision, and it’s important to schedule initial consultations to assess their compatibility with your specific needs and goals. The hiring process may take time, and it’s essential to choose an attorney who is the right fit for your specific needs. It’s important to consult with potential attorneys, ask questions, and assess whether they possess the qualities that align with your specific needs and preferences.


About Corri Fetman and Associates, Ltd.

Corri Fetman and Associates, Ltd. has over 34 years’ experience in representing clients in divorce, custody, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements and family law matters in Cook County, Winnebago County, DuPage County, Kane County and Lake County, Illinois. To schedule a consultation, call us at (312) 341-0900 or book a consultation at this link:

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