Certified Family Law Specialists
The law covers several areas. Just as medicine does. And just as you probably would not hire a brain surgeon to operate on your heart, you probably would not, and should not, hire a personal injury attorney to handle your custody matter (unless, of course, he is also well-versed in family law.)
A Certified Family Law Specialist is someone who has passed intense scrutiny to earn that title.
To be eligible for certification in family law, an attorney must meet certain qualifications set forth by the California Board of Legal Specialization, including:
- having been engaged in the practice of family law for a minimum of 25 percent of the time spent in occupational endeavors during the previous five years;
- being an active member of the State Bar of California;
- passing a written exam;
- demonstrating a high level of experience in the field of family law by meeting specific task and experience requirements;
- completing at least 45 hours of continuing education in family law; and
- being favorably evaluated by other attorneys and judges familiar with the attorney’s work.
Thus, an attorney who has achieved certification as a specialist has demonstrated a commitment to the highest standards of legal competence.
Certified specialists must renew their standing every few years and keep their practice focused predominately in their particular field of expertise. All family law attorneys must have significant knowledge and expertise in other legal areas, such as a general understanding of federal and state tax and estate planning laws and procedures. They must be familiar with bankruptcy procedures and federal bankruptcy laws. They must know social security law and, to some extent, federal securities laws, as well as understand the workings of state, federal, and private pension plans and other employment benefits. In addition, many California family law practitioners are familiar with the laws in other states and countries, because so often people live or come from or have property in other states or countries.
Because couples who split up also must deal with custody of their children, family law practitioners must also understand child development and other topics touching on emotional and psychological concerns of families. Part of the certification requirement involves psychological and counseling education.
As the above makes evident, a good family law attorney must devote a significant amount of time, money, and energy to stay informed in all of these areas in order to effectively represent the family law litigant. When your attorney is a certified specialist, you know that he or she has devoted those resources to attaining and maintaining the highest standard of legal knowledge