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Joseph E. Cordell

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Hiring The Right Divorce Lawyer: First Vital Decision

Posted: 11/25/2011 4:00 am

A lot of guys facing divorce have preconceived notions of the type of attorney they think will be ideal for their case.

Men seem to think having a "pit bull" for an attorney will make all the difference when they come into court for their divorce and child custody case.

A feisty, "take no prisoners" divorce lawyer will walk all over Mr. Nice Guy in a courtroom, right?

Others convince themselves they need a woman to represent them. Why? One common theory is having a woman represent a man in a divorce action can soften the harshness of his arguments against his wife.

For instance, if a male attorney with a male client gets your wife on the stand and highly criticizes her life choices, such as being a housewife, it can appear cruel or attacking.

However, you may be able to present a potentially less offensive argument to the court if you have a female attorney respectfully point out the choice to be a housewife may no longer make sense for the family.

So should you go with the pit bull or Mr. Nice Guy? The man or the woman?

The short answer is it is better to have a competent divorce lawyer who cares about your case and will provide you with the kind of representation that you are paying for.

There isn't one personality type that fits best to every divorce and child custody case, and the gender of your attorney should have little impact on the final outcome.

As with many family law matters, the need for a pit bull approach or a Mr. Nice Guy approach really depends on the facts in the case and the nature of the litigation.

At Cordell & Cordell, one characteristic that I find stands out with our divorce lawyers is the versatility they can provide in their representation of clients in adapting strategies and comprehensive roadmaps tailored to the client's needs and stated goals.

We promise our clients intelligently aggressive representation and take it to heart what that promise means.

While the merits and strengths of pursuing alternative dispute resolution methods or informal settlement conferences are explored in every matter, for many of our clients the time for "playing nice" and a collaborative style of representation has ended well before they walk in the door.

Very often, guys going through divorce simply want their day in court, which we believe every client should be entitled to.

For example, one recent case dealt with a contentious child custody matter in which a client had been pressured by prior counsel to take a less litigious course of action and concede a preliminary award of child custody to his wife, over the client's stated desires.

When the client decided to get a second opinion in meeting with and later retaining Cordell & Cordell, we developed a comprehensive litigation strategy which ended up with the dad receiving a favorable child custody evaluation and later an award of primary physical custody of his children at trial.

Family courts vest their judges with a large amount of discretion. Each judge will view your unique facts differently so there is no certainty on the impact of your choice of an attorney, be it man or woman, pit bull or nice guy.

A Checklist of Questions When Interviewing A Divorce Lawyer
Adapted from my book "The 10 Stupidest Mistakes Men Make When Facing Divorce"

1. Do you focus exclusively on divorce and family law, particularly father's rights and men's rights?
2. Have you practiced in the county my case will take place in? (Variations of this include do you know my judge or the judges in that circuit? And have you heard of the attorney on the other side?)
3. What can we do in terms of strategy and tactics for helping me get what I want?
4. How do you feel about going to trial in a divorce case? Do most of your cases settle?
5. What's your general philosophy or approach when representing men in divorce cases?

Joseph Cordell is the Principal Partner of Cordell & Cordell, a nationwide domestic litigation firm focused on men's family law matters. Cordell & Cordell also provides a website dedicated to informing men on the divorce process and the challenges they face. Visit http://www.dadsdivorce.com for more information