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How to Choose a Family Law Attorney in San Diego in 2014 for Our Divorce, Legal Separation or Paternity Case?


One of the best ways to find a paternity, legal separation or divorce lawyer in San Diego is to ask others who have gone “down this road” already. While you and your spouse and child or children are unique and all cases are different, the law which applies to your case is the same. Someone who has used the services of the attorney before for a family law case can tell you if they attorney did what they represented they would do and kept in communication with them during their case. In essence, ask if the lawyer exceeded their expectations with regards to legal fees and legal services. If the attorney did, then you know your chances of having the same result are much higher than choosing a lawyer who was not personally referred.


Another excellent way to obtain a family law lawyer is through the California State Bar Certified Referral Services. There are only a handful of these in San Diego and below is a list. To qualify for these panels, the attorney must be validly licensed and have experience in the area of law you are seeking legal representation and also have malpractice insurance. The attorneys are screened by each panel to make sure they meet the requirements. For your ease of use as a resource, below are the names of some bar certified referral services and their website. To be a member of the panel for the lawyer referrals from these referral services, the attorney must have a valid license to practice law in California as well as standards for experience in cases as well as other requirements.

Attorney Search Network

Attorney Referral Services

San Diego Central County Bar Lawyer Referral Service

San Diego North County Bar Lawyer Referral Service


Hiring an attorney is one of the most important decisions you will make in your family law case and perhaps your life. Hiring an attorney is not like purchasing a product: for example; buying a new car. No matter which dealer you buy your car from, the actual car is the same. There may be other considerations such as location of dealership for ease of access for purchase and maintenance or special offers from a particular dealer or financing options however the price of the car will, most likely, be the determining factor. This is not the same with a personal service such a legal representation with a lawyer. It is crucial that you personally meet, if you are in the same geographical location as the law office, with the attorney who will be representing you in your case. Look at the attorney’s office as well.


While, as above, you are unique, the legal analysis and issues in your case will be the same: custody; visitation; child support; spousal support; division of assets; division of debts and others. While some cases, such as paternity, do not have all issues, the common three are child support and visitation and custody. Ask the attorney, during your meeting, to try and give you realistic expectations for the outcome. No attorney can guarantee the outcome of any case but, for example, child support is calculated using a legal program called the Disso Master. Attorneys in San Diego can purchase this software and the Judge’s in San Diego County Family Law Courts have the same computer program. This is only one example and bring a list of your goals and issues for the consultation. This gives you a chance to “judge” the attorney before hiring. It is a very good idea, of course, to have at least 2-3 free in-person or virtual consultations before making a final decision.


Does the attorney have a full time staff? Does the attorney keep current on the law with continuing education credits in family law? Does the attorney appear regularly in the court house and, if possible, in front of the Judge you have been assigned to if there is an open case? Does the attorney have a website? How long has the attorney practiced law in San Diego County? How much percentage of the attorney’s practice is family law? Is the attorney a certified specialist in family law? Is the attorney easy to work with? Does the attorney charge for costs such as mileage, postage, fax, parking, mileage or copying? Does the attorney charge for routine filings in the San Diego Superior Court Houses? What is the attorneys hourly rate? What is the paralegal rate? There are many others and these are all considerations.

WHY CHOOSE Doppelt and Forney, APLC?

Doppelt and Forney, APLC is a law firm located in San Diego. The law firm does not charge for many of the costs other law firms charge for. Please call and, at your complimentary and confidential consultation, ask about the hourly rates and costs as well as [of course] service.

Client Reviews
Dear Roy, I would like to thank you and all team members as well as office staff for helping me defend in this case. It has been a difficult time for me during the last couple of weeks, and now because of this success result, I am able to move forward with my new chapter of life, even a little late at this age!!! Again with much appreciation, I wish you all to continue to do the same with a big heart as it was with me, in helping those who are in need of your professional services. W.
Thank you for your time and energy on this case, you took so much of the worry away from me! I appreciate all of your help. I will use and recommend you to other in the future. T.S.
I want to take this time to thank you and your staff for an outstanding job with my case to terminate spousal, you are an excellent attorney Roy, and your staff is very professional and considerate to my questions and concerns of my case. Thank you very much again. T.Y.
I wanted to say how much I appreciate your help and advice in regards to my name change. Your assistance during this time has been invaluable. Thank you again. M.J.