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Picking Your Family Law Attorney in Ocean County

Picking Your Family Law Attorney in Ocean County

Picking Your Family Law Attorney

Ocean County Family Law and Divorce Attorney

Jeff J. Horn, Family Law Attorney Ocean County

I have dispensed this advice for years. Pick your Family Law Attorney in Ocean County, based upon your comfort level with the lawyer as a person.  Match your goals with your Family Law Attorney.  

What does Family Law Attorney believe can be achieved?

If there comes a point where those two bases of compatibility cannot be answered positively by you, then switch family law attorneys. If those two questions cannot be answered adequately by your next lawyer, you probably have unrealistic goals and should rethink them.

You Need to Know About Your Family Law Attorney in Ocean County

Mentoring, Continuing Education, and Malpractice Insurance

Unlike other professions, lawyers need not study under a qualified professional. In most states, there is no required mentoring and there is minimal required continuing education. I believe that this is a tragedy. State bar examiners should require mentoring and continuing education. The newly licensed lawyer has the right to perform every task that the lawyer with 30 years of experience can perform. Contrast this with accountants who mandate rigorous continuing education, peer work review, and a minimum number of years in practice before they can even sit to become certified public accountants.

Mentorship – Family Law Attorney

Practicing physicians endure four years of college, four years of medical school, and two to eight years of internships and residency programs before they are cut loose with full licensure and full credentials. The entry into the practice of law does not include those types of barriers. Upon passing the bar exam and securing licensure, the new lawyer is free to practice at will.

Shocked to find out that Family Law attorneys are not required to carry malpractice insurance in New Jersey?

You should find this offensive – I do. If you pick a lawyer because of a reputation as a tough S.O.B., consider that the lawyer may be one of the many “miserable and disappointed people” I discussed.

The Role of Your Family Law Attorney

Your lawyer will counsel you and fight for you. Those two tasks are frequently in conflict with one another. When you and your lawyer are planning the steps of your case, deciding upon the reasonable goals based upon the known facts, determining how far to investigate and responding to correspondence, offers, or threats from the opposing side, your lawyer is counseling you. Counseling involves managing your risk while exercising professional discretion. The lawyer’s job is to get you the best net dollar result. That is, since you are already losing half of your stuff, you ought to spend the least amount of money on legal fees and expert fees possible.

Your family law attorney has to help you to receive or pay, and to figure out a way to coax your spouse or ex into accepting something reasonable. 

Child custody and parenting time issues that are not actually contested, should not subject you to many hours of counseling. In custody disputes, the lawyer’s goal should be to ensure the children’s interests are met and that you can still do business with your ex-spouse. Most of your time will be spent in this counseling environment with your lawyer. When your lawyer tells you that your goals are unrealistic, it does not mean that in the event of litigation your lawyer will not fight for you or exercise all of the professional judgment reasonable to move your case to a favorable resolution for you.

Family Law Attorneys in Ocean County are competitive and want to win.

Family Law Litigation

It cannot be overemphasized how few divorce cases are fully litigated. There is always something to agree on. For example, how many children you have, date of marriage, and age of the parties ought to be the subject of a stipulation. The cost in dollars, wasted time, and goodwill of a divorce trial will rarely result in a net gain for either party.

Should You Hire a Divorce and Family Law Specialist?

The word “specialist” has long been prohibited for use in lawyer advertising. The lawyer ethics police believe that the public is not market savvy enough to cull through marketing information and make determinations about hiring a lawyer. There services that rate family law attorneys and other lawyers. Ocean County Super Lawyer. Here is a link to the Super Lawyer criteria.

A common joke among family and divorce lawyers is that the practice is rather thin on the law and thick on emotions.


Skilled family and divorce lawyers revel in the opportunity to utilize the combination of statutory and case law to advance their client’s position whether in or out of court. Utilizing a person specializing in a particular legal area will certainly improve the chances of the lawyer knowing the law well. A specialist will also likely have relationships with the judges and court staff. This is not likely to gain you an advantage in a fully litigated matter; however, in the case of close call, human nature dictates that an honest and reputable lawyer will present the matter with skill and credibility.

It is also does not hurt that the family and divorce law specialist will have developed long term relationships with the court. When the family and divorce law specialist cites a case, the court can rely on the meaning of the case in the context of its presentation. When an outside lawyer makes a similar presentation, the court might be more suspicious.

There can be drawbacks to hiring a specialist.

Family court is an extremely busy place. Your family and divorce law specialist will almost inevitably have other cases on the day that your case is called for routine calendar calls and for pre-trial motions. You must be able to handle sharing the love.

Cost of family law attorney representation in Ocean County can be a major issue.


The specialist will typically charge more per hour and, quite possibly, more overall than the general practitioner. Some would argue that a specialist is more apt to practice defensively. That is, to take extra steps in your case to cover his or her own behind. Defensive practice can mean making a mountain out of a molehill. The mountain will be loads of documents, depositions, and other discovery techniques that may help your case, but may also cost you loads of money. It is necessary for the client to work together with the lawyer specialist to strike a balance.

What Kind of Person Would Choose to Practice Divorce and Family Law?

My informal study finds that divorce and family law picks people rather than the lawyer picking the practice. So many lawyers that I speak to bristle at the thought that I only practice divorce and family law. They say, “I don’t know how you do it” or “how can you deal with those people?” “Those people” are the divorcing parties. When the lawyer has that view of the divorce and family law practice, I am relieved that they have found a different area of practice.

Divorce and family law is a hard enough practice if you embrace it, live it, and love it. It is impossible to do a good job for clients when you hate it. These lawyers are a close-knit group. Family law attorneys join the same associations. They talk shop constantly and complain about the process unceasingly. Each divorce lawyer has a certainty about how the process can be improved and is eager to share those thoughts with anyone who will listen. In no particular order, divorce and family law lawyers have the following attributes:

  • fight.
  • compete.
  • care about people.
  • care about children.
  • do not care about becoming the richest lawyer in town.
  • like to work.
  • like to solve problems.

More attributes:

  • They always think that they are right.
  • use of funny words such as roof expenses, parties, parenting time, visitation and removal.
  • They must know the law, explain the law, and then explain to clients how the law does not apply to their case.
  • take work home at night.
  • work on vacation.
  • They have homes, bills, spouses, children, births, deaths, successes, failures, and feelings just like you do.

More On Managing Your Lawyer (And Your Spouse’s Lawyer)

Your family law attorney is not your friend. Your spouse’s lawyer is not your friend. Both have certain goals. One common goal is the liberation of some of your money. When you understand that for the lawyer your case is one of many and that the practice of law is the business by which the lawyer pays the rent, pays the staff, and supports the family, you will understand the motivation of your lawyer. Use that understanding to your advantage. You will benefit from it, your spouse will benefit from it, and your decent, fair lawyer will also benefit from having an educated client. As soon as you decide the lawyer is your friend and not your paid advisor and a business person, you will mismanage the lawyer. 

Assume your family law attorney in Ocean County will be friendly and professional but do not assume he or she is your friend.

If you need a friend, you must find one that does not charge by the hour. Need someone to talk to, or are feeling particularly stressed? Here are some ideas: pray, adopt a dog, join a divorce group, join a gym, drink herbal tea, watch birds, meditate, take up yoga, drink (but not to excess). Do anything but do not call your lawyer when you just need a friend. Calling your lawyer because you are upset about something is a tremendous waste of time, money, and the energy that the lawyer has for your case. Do not forget that the lawyer is a human being who wants your representation to go well.

Your family law attorney wants to help you succeed, protect your children, get paid, and have you as a satisfied customer in the marketplace.

Related – Free Divorce Lawyer Ocean County

Photo by Mohamed Nohassi on Unsplash