A really nice guy who was going through a tough marital breakup called me looking for a Chicago divorce attorney referral. It was a typical situation where the marriage had run its course. He and his wife both have decent jobs and the biggest issue in the case is custody of their two kids and child support.
Based on his location and specific needs (including cost and some other personal requests) I recommended a very experienced, male divorce attorney in Chicago. After I described him and he agreed it sounded like a great fit, he said he’d call him. The process is typically to call the attorney, get a free consultation and see if it’s the right fit. But before he did that, he had a question. Here’s what he said:
I was told that it’s better to have a female attorney for divorce and custody if you are a man. Is that true?
Now we know and recommend a lot of great female family law attorneys in the Chicago area. Who we recommend will depend on your case facts and desires. There’s nothing wrong with being more comfortable with a male attorney or female attorney.
In this case though, and most where I hear something like this, he didn’t care what gender his lawyer was. He was asking because he had heard that it would help his case.
This is a common myth not based in reality. When I asked him if a lawyer had told him that, I knew the answer would be no. It was of course some well meaning friends who were telling them what they thought based on whatever perceptions they have.
There are more than 50 family law Judges in Cook County. Are there some that seem biased in favor of women or men? Sure, that’s just a numbers game. But by far the great majority of them could care less and aren’t going to award you custody or parenting time because you are working with a woman (or a man).
No Judge is going to think you are good person because you are working with someone of the opposite sex. They have hundreds of cases on their docket and just want to get through them. What they really want to see are experienced, prepared lawyers in their courtroom and respectful parties.
Judges can’t be gamed and while, like we said, some might have inherent biases, most really do listen the case facts and make rulings based on the evidence in front of them. There is nothing in the law that gives Moms more rights than Dads or Dads more rights than Moms. Custody is decided on the best interests of the child when the parents can’t work things out themselves.
Bottom line is that you should get the best attorney for you. If you feel more comfortable with a man or a woman, that’s great. But most importantly, make sure they know what they are doing and will fight for you. If you’d like a recommendation from us, please call any time to speak with a lawyer for free at 312-346-5320.