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Can a Family Law Attorney Based in Another NJ County Represent Me?
You have options when it comes to hiring an attorney. Where that law firm is located should be low on your list. Check out today's blog to find out what you should consider before you decide to retain a legal advocate.
If you’ve never used a family law attorney before and you find that you need one in a matter like divorce, there’s probably a lot you don’t know about the process. You’ll likely get advice from lots of very well-meaning people who may not give you the best guidance about the process that you’ll need to go through.
One of the biggest misconceptions is about hiring a local attorney to represent you. If you’re petitioning for a divorce in one county, many people assume you must retain an attorney who’s based in that same county. Sometimes, people also think that if you retain a “local” attorney, you’ll have an advantage because your lawyer knows the judge and other legal players—and can navigate the system more effectively.
The reality, however, is that you have options when it comes to hiring an attorney—and you need to consider many aspects of a family law firm and attorney before you decide to retain a legal advocate. Where that law firm is located should be low on your list.
Why You Don’t Need to Choose a Family Law Attorney in Your County
You may think you need an attorney based in the same county where you reside or where your matter will play out, so that you have a better “chance” with the court and the judge deciding your case. It may seem like an attorney who knows the judge professionally and/or personally would have a much better chance of bending the ear of the person who makes the ultimate decisions about your family law matter.
The reason those assumptions are incorrect: professionalism. All attorneys, judges, and court staff are bound by a code of conduct. They work to provide a fair court hearing for your case, no matter what county your legal counsel’s firm is based.
Professionalism also keeps personal feelings at bay. While a judge may count certain attorneys as friends, when it comes to court proceedings, the attorney will bring the case before them as they would any other judge. There are no favors or personal feelings involved in the court system.
What you may be thinking is that certain judges tend to lean more to one side or the other in certain types of cases. This is true. Any attorney can find the records of decisions for every judge to better know and understand which judge may be more favorable for your matter. Your lawyer can work to get your case in front of a different judge or prepare the case in such a way that it addresses the judge’s preferences or prior rulings history. Every experienced family law attorney does this for their client.
Here’s What to Look for in a Family Law Attorney
There are many considerations when determining who you’ll retain to represent you and your case. You’ll find the best attorney for you by asking these questions:
- What’s this attorney’s background and special qualifications? For example, are they a New Jersey Certified Matrimonial Law attorney? This is an official designation given by the New Jersey Supreme Court to attorneys who’ve demonstrated a superior skill set in the areas of family and matrimonial law. This designation provides a clear guidepost to those seeking a top-rated New Jersey matrimonial lawyer.
- What do their clients say about them?
- Is this attorney successful in achieving amenable outcomes for their clients?
- Are they experienced in family law, and in representing?
- Have they had a case in my court before?
- Do they know the players in your court system, including the opposing attorneys? Are they respected by these people?
- How is their family law firm rated for customer service?
The best attorneys in New Jersey practice all over the state. If they’re experienced, they’ve also been involved in cases in multiple counties and multiple courts in front of several judges. This means that they’ve earned a reputation for the quality of their representation and are respected by those in the family law system.
Choose the Best Family Law Attorney for Your Unique Situation
Instead of looking at attorneys through a “hyper-local” lens, we recommend making a short list of the best attorneys with experience in your matter, who can represent you in your matter and help you achieve the best outcome for your family.
Start by doing your research to find law firms and attorneys that fit your needs. Look at online reviews and comments from past clients to determine how well they handled their cases. You can also call the firm to talk to an intake specialist to get more of a feel for their culture and general information about the attorney and the firm.
Of course, you’ll need an attorney well-versed and experienced in the family laws in your state. This additionally serves you, as an experienced lawyer in your area who’ll know the judges and court officials, as well as the best resources you’ll need such as therapists, custody experts, forensic accountants, and business valuators. Plus, the more connections your attorney has in your area, the more likely it is that they’ll know your spouse’s lawyer and their team, potentially making negotiations easier and faster.
Most first-time consultations with an attorney cost on average between $150 and $300. Be prepared to succinctly summarize your situation, including dates of separation, current custody arrangements, any restraining orders or arrests, and other relevant information helpful to your case. That way, your attorney can provide his or her best ideas for whether your desired outcomes are realistic, and the best ways to achieve those outcomes.
After you’ve informed your potential attorney about the facts of your matter, ask questions to get a feel for how they’ll handle your case and how they’ll communicate with you. You want to be certain that if you have a question or a new development arises in your case, that you have a way to report it and to hear back from an office staff member in a timely manner.
As you interview attorneys, ask about the size of their law firm and how that may help your case. It’s important to find a legal office that’s personal enough to know who you are and remember your case, but also has enough resources to support your specific matter as it plays out. In any case, you don’t want to just be a number to the attorney you hire.
Contact the Experienced Family Law Attorneys at Smedley Law Group in Woodbury, NJ Today
If you’re thinking about filing for divorce, you’ll also most likely be dealing with another matter like child custody, child support, or division of assets, so you’ll need to speak with a qualified attorney. The New Jersey-based family law attorneys at Smedley Law Group represent clients throughout the state, including West Deptford, Woodbury Heights, Runnemede, and Westville. We understand how challenging this time can be for you, which is why we will fight hard to protect your interests, and the interests of your loved ones, throughout the legal process. Call us at (856) 251-0800 or fill out our confidential contact form to schedule a consultation. We have an office conveniently located at 750 Cooper Street, Woodbury, NJ 08096.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you’re seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.