Don’t Do These 3 Things When Looking for a Divorce Attorney

The stakes are high in a divorce, since it involves your children and your assets.  For many people, it is their first experience with the legal system, and they aren’t sure where to start.  Good representation is essential for navigating the system, and avoiding these three mistakes when looking for a divorce attorney will help you have the best outcome:

  • Hiring an Attorney Who Is Not Experienced in Divorce. 

If you have an acquaintance or relative who is an attorney, you might think that he or she would be your best pick since you know and trust them.  While that relationship is valuable, you need to also consider the attorney’s knowledge and experience.  The practice of law can be very broad, and while one attorney may be a wiz at contracts and another at patents, you want to find someone who really knows the in’s and out’s of divorce.  You want someone who knows the judges and mediators in your area and who is comfortable helping you understand and thrive in the system.  One mistake some people make is assuming that all lawyers are about the same in handling a divorce, when in reality, an experienced attorney with years of practice in divorce specifically will give you an edge in your case.

  • Failing to Consider Whether Billing is Flat Rate or Hourly.

Money matters and should be one of your most important up-front considerations.  Your attorney will typically charge you either a flat fee or an hourly billing rate.  There are pros and cons to either option.  With a flat fee, you have the certainty of knowing up front how much your case will cost.  Typically, an attorney comes up with the flat fee price by taking about the average cost of various divorce cases, so by nature, some clients who choose the flat fee option will be overpaying and some who take the flat fee option will be underpaying.  The incentive in a flat fee case for your attorney will be to resolve it quickly and simply, which may impact your attorney’s enthusiasm for litigation or for responding to communications. Alternatively, with an hourly billing rate your pay for the time your attorney works on the case, which typically includes any time reading or answering emails, drafting documents, communicating with staff about your case, or appearing on your behalf. The upside of this billing system is that your attorney is incentivized to go the extra mile because you are paying for each step. The downside is that the bills can add up quickly, and you may end up paying more than you had budgeted.  You should discuss the billing method up front with your attorney, and you should share your thoughts and concerns openly with your attorney to decide the best billing method for your case.

  • Forgetting to Consider Your Attorney’s Negotiating Style

There is no single cookie-cutter style that will be effective for all situations.  Some attorneys are very aggressive, intimidating, and loud-spoken, and these “bull-dog” style attorneys can be effective if you are looking for an attorney who will send a strong message to the other side.  Other attorneys are more conciliatory, and can use their negotiating tactics to facilitate excellent settlements that the mroe aggressive attorneys may find challenging to broker. Another type of attorney may be less impressive in person, but may be extremely well-versed in the system or have excellent writing skills which make them very useful in a case where those skills are needed. You are in the best position to know yourself and your ex-spouse.  Don’t just assume that the loudest attorney on the block is the best. Consider whether your case will be more adversarial or more cooperative, think about your personal preferences, and choose the attorney whose skills are the right fit for you.

In Summary

Have confidence that you can find the right attorney for you and your case. You just need to find someone with the right kind of experience, figure out the most economical and effective billing strategy, and connect with the attorney who has the best skill-set for your particular personality and circumstances, and you will be in a good place to make the divorce process as successful as possible.

 

How To Take Charge of Your Divorce

Going through a divorce can be a stressful time, but there are several steps you can take to prepare to make your best case.  Organization and preparation are the keys to reducing anxiety and having a successful outcome.

4 Steps you should follow to prepare yourself for a divorce hearing

 

  • Organize all of your assets

 

This is the first and a very important step that should not be overlooked. Make sure you make a list of all the family assets, including bank accounts, stocks, real estate and all other marital assets. The list should date back a few years so that you do not miss out on any crucial information. The judge may order a disclosure of assets, so having this information organized and ready will be vital. Sharing this information with your attorney early in the case will help your counsel more effectively represent you.  

 

  • Organize your evidence

 

Before reaching a verdict the court will take everything into account. This encompasses all the evidence that proves why the case should swing your way. Evidence that will be considered admissible in court typically includes emails, messages and some verbal statements.  Make sure you keep your cool and don’t start bad mouthing your spouse during a court hearing. Keep in mind that everything you say or do can be used against you in court.

 

  • Determine Your Plan for the Interim

 

The process typically includes the judge issuing a temporary order, which tells you what to do until the divorce is final. You should be prepared to tell the judge what temporary arrangements you think would be best and why.  The issues you should consider would likely include temporary child support, temporary parenting plan, where each spouse will live, temporary spousal support, use of vehicles, costs of health care and hospitalization, whether a protective order is necessary.  These issues aren’t simple, but are very important. For example, staying in the family home may feel awkward, but in some cases your presence may be comforting to your children and the discomfort of having you in the home may incentivize your spouse to settle quickly.  Circumstances vary, so you should weigh the pros and cons of each of these factors carefully and consult with your attorney if you have one.   

 

  • Hire a competent family attorney

 

Most people hire the first attorney that they come across which could prove to be fatal to your case. Although attorneys don’t come cheap, it is recommended that you do not try to cut costs when deciding on your attorney. The more competent and experienced your attorney is, the better the chance of your winning your divorce hearing. So, carefully select your attorney, keeping in perspective his or her previous experiences and client’s feedback.

If you follow the steps given above you will be better prepared to take charge of your divorce.

Sources

http://www.lawv.net/Resources/Self-Help-Library/Family/Divorce-Court-Hearings-And-Court-Procedure

http://www.divorcesource.com/ds/divorceprocess/divorce-process-facts-and-tips-4531.shtml

How to Make Sure You Find the Right Divorce Attorney

No one signed their marriage certificate thinking that it would be ending in a messy divorce one day. While there is no way to plan for a divorce or prepare yourself or your children for the process of dissolving your marriage, here are three questions to ask yourself to make sure you find the right divorce attorney.

Does your attorney understand your needs?

No matter if  the most important part of your settlement be a smooth division of your bank accounts or custody of your children and potential child support payments, your attorney should understand what is of the utmost importance to you. In addition to your divorce, you should be sure that your attorney can also handle any type of visitation and support and in more extreme cases, restraining order and changes in custody. Since children are involved in many divorce cases, your lawyer should also understand the need to delicately balance the conflict and establish boundaries to minimize the hardship for everyone involved.

Is your attorney experienced?

Since no two divorces are the same, it is important to make sure you choose a lawyer and a firm with extensive experience in several areas of family law in addition to divorce. The Law Offices of David Knecht has solid experience in all types of family law including child custody and visitation, child and spousal support, and restraining orders. Having an experienced lawyer also means that they will be able to advise you on the most cost-effective solution for your particular divorce and get things filed and completed quickly.

Can your attorney help you in other areas of your life?

A big life change like a divorce can lead you to consider other immediate or future legal needs. Once your divorce is settled and finalized, knowing that your attorney could possibly provide future legal counsel is a great benefit. Look into other services your lawyer can offer such as drawing up wills or living trusts. While it may seem daunting to take on a new task like estate planning, you may be so comfortable with your lawyer that you will be able to tackle it following your divorce or set up a date in the near future.

Though divorce may not be an easy or quick process, having the right attorney can definitely make it simpler, more cost-effective, and less strenuous for everyone involved.

Problems with Your Divorce? 5 Ways to Come Out On Top

When people ask if you are having problems with your divorce, the right question might actually be “Is anything actually going right with your divorce?” However to ease the pain and difficulty of the divorce process, here are 5 ways to come out a much better and mature individual:

Try to maintain a professional demeanor

Perhaps one of the main contributors to your divorce includes the fact that you and your spouse have a hard time being civil toward one another, let alone professional.

It can be hard to maintain a professional and mature demeanor throughout your divorce proceedings, however striving to portray those two characteristics throughout the entire process will help things run much smoothly, regardless of how your future ex-spouse behaves.

Know your strengths and weaknesses, at least when it comes to finances

Even if your spouse was the one in the family who balanced the books, you can still get up to speed and know your finances better than ever before sitting down with a divorce lawyer. Knowing your financial strengths and weaknesses before your marriage will also help you improve your spending and saving habits for after the divorce is finalized.

Keep your head above water

While it may feel like so many things are out of your control and money is flying out of your bank account in more directions than you can keep track of, KEEP TRACK OF IT!

Staying out of debt is an important way to come out on top during your divorce and make sure that you are set up for your new single life. Though you may have more expenses than you expect, planning wisely can help keep your head above water through your divorce as well as the first twelve months that follow.

Remember the only two certain things in life

Whether its death, taxes or both, you need to also focus on reevaluating your estate plan in the event that you will need it sooner than you think. In addition to a will, trust, durable power of attorney, and advance health care directive, make sure that you also get ahead by changing your legal documents so they are all ready for the inevitable tax deadline next April. Even if taxes are months away, arranging everything for an easy filing will save you stress later on in the year!

Don’t resign yourself to failure

Feeling that your marriage was a failure, and that you might fail in other aspects of your life, is a completely normal feeling during the divorce process. However, a divorce does not mean that you failed, or that your future is grim. 

As you stop devoting all your time and energy to fixing your marriage, you can now put all that energy into finding success in a new endeavor whether it be continuing your education, switching career paths, or learning a new hobby.