Family law attorneys may focus on divorces, but child custody does not require a divorce in the first place? Whether married or unmarried, the issue of kids is common, and the issues involving kids is also commonly a point of problematic issues.
While many attorneys can handle custody issues, and financial issues, and legal issues, there really is not one type of person, attorney wise, that will be the best fit for all clients. Having knowledge of procedure in family law is a given, but pretty much the way family law attorneys handle divorces and cases can vary. Some may like to focus on mediation and settlement, and that's pretty much what they do.
It does not take a litigator to focus on settlement. It does not take a real fighter to focus on mediation.
So for those who wish to settle everything, and they can actually agree to work out something, that's great. Should they have to pay $3k, $5k; or even $60k, $200k, or close, to work it out? Maybe, if there are serious numbers in the portfolio, many issues with properties, and tax issues. Or large businesses and valuations (let's say a dentist wants to sell the practice; or doctor wants to divide the practice,etc.) Would that require an attorney or a tax person? Could be both but seems more like tax to me.....
In many cases, clients will not back down for varying reasons, and some of those reasons are definitely valid? and why not? Maybe they are actually being ripped off? Maybe one party has no parenting skills whatsoever? Maybe one parent is on drugs?
What attorney commonly sees, is that one parent is really off base in his or her attitude toward the kids, or whatever they are fighting about, and the other parent will not give in-- and often times, rightly so... On the other hand, sometimes one person is dead set on some type of action he or she wants, and will not let that go (say, one wants to keep a house but the other wants it..) Or, commonly seen, is that one parent is the better caretaker of kids but is always working, leaving the not so good parent taking care of the kids--but doing a terrible job?
Then there could be domestic violence issues and not any money issues? OR one or both parents have their own issues inherent to their personalities, and that will fuel more fighting.
For the most part, the non financial workouts are often much more difficult emotionally, and the financial ones can be maddening rather than depressing. You don't usually need litigation for financial workouts if people can agree upon numbers or certain assets. Sometimes there will be fighting because no one will agree on actual numbers, thus there is no agreement on who gets what.
There could be deceit or huge discrepancies used in the financial holdings, in which case tracing would be used and investigators or CPAs if needed. Litigation might have to be used if there is fraud or something close. It could be that spousal support would be an issue as one side claims he/she doesn't make the amount the other side claims?
Normally -- fraud doesn't just get mediated away? There is a lot written in the family code concerning finances because historically, some people have chosen to try and swindle the spouse; therefore, litigation is usually required. Large dealership sales, acquisitions and larger transfers can be very big litigation issues, especially if they were done without oversight.
As for the children and custody fights, sometimes both parents have some fairly common beliefs and not every parent is wrong. Sometimes a mediator can decide what is in the best interest of the kids, but other times we have seen some decisions that are not exactly what we would call fair...
It might be when some people look for attorneys, they really want a fighter and not a weak advocate. It is true that some attorneys are not able to actually litigate because they really have little skill at trial advocacy. Others may have better skills at settling issues, because they can find some common ground to parcel out to each side. In choosing an advocate, each client probably needs to feel confident to some degree, that whatever type of action they are trying to get--that the attorney can actually do that action for them.
The best way for an attorney to find out whether they are suited to a case is to ask a lot of specific questions. It takes more time, but in the long run it will help the client, and the attorney can better perform the duties required. Hopefully that would lead to success for the client's case!