Fathers are important to children. You know that. And if you’re reading this now, something is probably standing in the way of this. There’s so much information on the internet about what’s now become a marketing hook: Fathers’ Rights... Men’s Rights. I won’t get into how the “fathers’ rights” movement began other than to say that many fathers feel helpless in court systems that seemingly favor the mothers. But first I pose a question with an informative answer. What law(s) are specifically written for fathers in the State of New Mexico? The answer is: None. There’s not a single law or statute that specifically addresses or names fathers as a special or protected class of individuals. But then again, mothers aren’t specifically named either. The law in New Mexico is written using the word “parent”. And herein lies an important consideration if you’re a father seeking representation in New Mexico especially since the courts here are blind to this label of “Fathers’ or Mens’ Rights –
Do you believe that only a man (attorney) can understand another man (father)? And is this the best and only choice for you to make to achieve success in your legal matter?
If you had to choose between a male attorney (knowing you’d lose); or a female attorney (knowing you’d win) – which would you choose? This seems like a no brainer. I would submit that whomever gets the job done for you is best choice. But this means that you’ll have to park the high emotion you’re feeling enough to think clearly and make the right choice. Women attorneys can be awesome fighters (you may already know this about your ex). And by the way, I am addressing real Dad’s out there that want to be fathers to their children. Father’s that are being prevented from having the kids in their lives because their mother is playing games or unrightfully blocking visitation. I am not addressing those who seek to abandon their kids or not pay child support because they don’t have and don’t want a relationship with the children they made.
Let me dispel some of the mystery and hype about whether a “fathers’ or men’s rights” advertising attorney can provide you with something better. #1: the playing field is level in New Mexico family courts. All lawyers, male and female, must abide by the same rules and regulations both in and out of court. And Judges don’t care a whit about whether a “fathers’ rights” attorney represents you or your lawyer friend who mostly does real estate closings. #2: It’s all about experience, knowledge, legal skill, and using the law and facts to win your position in court. Don’t pick a lawyer that advertises “fathers’ rights” and just because he’s male. You may have one shot at changing something in court. So it’s about picking the best professional to get the job done. And that might very well be an attorney that’s female, or one that doesn’t claim “men only” in their calling cards and advertising. #3: Beware of cheap fees. Cheap is what you get and you get what you pay for. It’s almost certain that you won’t get any professional service for your money from the cheap deal. No answers to your calls or emails and very little preparation for your case. Many men find this out when it’s too late.
Here’s a list of points to consider if you’re a father needing legal representation:
- Don’t let your bias cloud your view. It could be that a female attorney will be better qualified and fight more aggressively on your behalf. Intelligent, experienced female attorneys can be strong and passionate about winning your case! You’ll know one when you meet one. So interview attorneys before choosing.
- Pick an attorney that has a minimum of 5 years’ experience with cases just like yours. Ask them about this experience. If they don’t have it, move on.
- Ask about the attorney’s win rate in court and negotiating success. Winning your position while also avoiding court will save you a boat-load of money. Your attorney must have masterful negotiating skills too especially if your ex has an attorney.
- Find an attorney that carefully listens to your side, and then gives you straight-up advice. No cloudy ambiguous talk – real strategies and the truth. If you want someone to tell you what you want to hear – it’s almost a guarantee that you’ll choose the wrong lawyer.
- Ask about what they think your chances of winning are and how much it costs. If this is fuzzy, you might be in for sticker shock.
- Don’t plunk down your money without what’s called a Letter of Engagement. This is a written contract that outlines what the attorney will, and will not do. My advice: No letter, no hire. It’s amazing how many law firms don’t do this. Beware.
- Ask how your money is handled and how you are invoiced. If they don’t regularly provide written invoices and/or reports on what they’ve been doing – run. Note: even if you’re charged a flat fee you have a right to know what they’re doing for the money.
It may be that after everything I’ve proposed here, you’re just more comfortable with a man representing you. And that’s ultimately your choice. But please don’t fall for the advertising hype that’s designed to key into your emotional distress. I have witnessed firsthand, many fathers that were poorly represented because they chose the cheap, advertised, “Fathers’ Rights” lawyer that didn’t care, didn’t spend any time preparing for the case, and basically took their money and just showed up in court to “wing it”. Don’t let this be you. Consider that you may be missing an opportunity when you discount women attorneys as your choice of representation. Who better to go up against a woman than another woman who is your true advocate? One who is ferocious in court and convicted that your relationship with your children is being undermined and obstructed by their mother.
I am a woman and I am a New Mexico attorney with over 30 years of experience. I represent both fathers and mothers. And I understand fully that fathers are important in their children’s lives. Both I and the other attorneys on my team have aggressively and successfully represented many fathers in New Mexico that were getting the raw deal. And for the dads out there that won’t be swayed and want a man representing them – I have a talented male attorney on my team that is passionate about fathers and their children.
So it’s up to you. Choose wisely. Because you might only have one chance.