Category: Hiring a Divorce Lawyer

I’m a US citizen. I got divorced overseas. I have a child custody from an overseas country. What should I do to legalize the overseas court order in the US?

Confer with an attorney in the jurisdiction where you and/or the other parent now reside who has knowledge and experience with registering foreign divorce and child custody orders in the jurisdiction where you and/or the other parent now reside.

(48) I’m a US citizen. I got divorced overseas. I have a child custody from an overseas country. What should I do to legalize the overseas court order in the US? – Quora

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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Do family law divorce attorneys of the opposite side stalk and harass their client’s opposition if the client pays for it?

Some do (if you can imagine an attorney doing something like that, it’s probably already been done), but they’re outliers, and they are violating both the law and the rules governing fitness to practice law if and when they do so.

If an attorney is actually (actually) violating the law or violating the rules governing the practice of law, you are not obligated to suffer it. Notify your attorney and bring the misconduct to the attention of the court, the police, and the bar.

That stated, one cannot simply and subjectively brand an attorney of being a stalker or of engaging in harassing behavior and thus establish the attorney as a stalker or harasser. It’s common for sore losers to make false accusations of harassment against an opposing party and his/her attorney. Why? Because it’s a cheap, risk-free way to cast aspersions and demonize and neutralize (if the accusations stick to any degree) the opposing party and/or his/her attorney. Don’t be that guy/gal. If you think you may feel “stalked” and/or “harassed,” before your start accusing, be honest with yourself and ask whether you’re truly being stalked and harassed or just feeling defeated, hurt, angry, anxious, and afraid and wanting to lash out.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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Why Your Lawyer Might Drop Your Case By Braxton Mounteer

So, you have gotten news that your attorney has quit. Your attorney wrote you an email informing you that he or she your counsel either will soon withdraw as your counsel or has filed and served a notice of withdrawal of counsel. What does this mean? How does this work?
Did you not pay your lawyer? Were you not cooperating with your lawyer? Were you disregarding your lawyer’s advice? Actively working against your lawyer? Sabotaging your own case?

Was the case just too much for your lawyer? Did your lawyer get sick or did an emergency arise that requires all of his/her attention? Could your lawyer sense that you were disappointed in your lawyer’s performance and didn’t want to stick around?

Regardless of what the reason was, you no longer have or will soon not have legal counsel. You will need to find another lawyer to represent you.

You may believe that you could do better than your legal counsel. You wouldn’t be the first to think that way. You are likely frightfully mistaken.  Unless you are a genius who can learn in weeks what it take others years to master, you will not get a good enough handle on the legal system in time. Even if you did master the law, that doesn’t mean you can succeed as well as a lawyer could.
The law on the books is not always the law handed down in court. Insiders have, and will always have, an advantage over those who aren’t legal professionals.
And the legal profession is not kind to those who “did not pay their dues” in law school and by taking the bar exam. Pro se litigants (i.e., people who represent themselves in court cases) who are the equals of lawyers in their writing and oral arguments make most lawyers feel inferior and threatened (and that includes the former lawyers who are now judges). When pro se litigants are so “presumptuous” as to think they will be taken as seriously as the lawyers, the system tends to discriminate against the pro se litigants. So even if your lawyer is nothing more than a useful prop, get one.
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First Impressions of Being a Legal Assistant as a Writer By Braxton Mounteer

The first thing you should know is that I am a writer. I have authored some short stories and some other things you haven’t heard of. I have been a Legal Assistant for two days, and I had some expectations when I started. Honestly, my expectations came from courtroom dramas and fiction novels. I was expecting Atticus Finch and the team from Suits. I was expecting other lawyers to be as bloodthirsty as Vlad Tepes.
What I have found is that they exist not as an archetype, but as people. Each one is just a person. Whether they are fighting against the rightfully earned reputation of their profession or living in the shadow of it, they are just people. Some of them work and care for the Law, some for their clients, and some for themselves.
The shows that we watch and books that we read about lawyers and the legal profession prop up personalities to make them larger than life. That is what makes them good stories. However, the best stories are based on a kernel of truth. I endeavor to learn more about the profession and dispel the illusions and mystification surrounding the profession.
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How Do You Get a Divorce That Involves No Children and No Property or Money if You Haven’t Been Able to Find Your Spouse for Almost 10 Years, and Without Having to Hire a Lawyer?

You probably worry that hiring a lawyer will bankrupt you, and so you’re afraid to get the help a good divorce lawyer could be to you.

Before you resolve not to hire an attorney to represent you, find out what it will cost you to get a good divorce attorney’s help in your situation. You may be surprised that it’s not ruinously expensive.

I won’t lie: sometimes the cost of what it would cost you to have an attorney represent you is ruinously expensive, but find out if that’s true in your case. Don’t deny yourself the benefits of good legal representation because you foolishly refused to find out if you can afford it.

In the situation you described (no children to fight over, no property to fight over, and your spouse has been AWOL for ten years), getting your divorce case filed, service of process completed, and your decree of divorce issued by the court may not take long or cost much, if you end up getting a divorce by default.

Even if you ultimately decide not to hire an attorney, meeting for an initial consultation with an attorney or two is still a good way to get informed about certain aspects of the divorce process.

If, after you consult with an attorney, you determine that you cannot afford an attorney’s services or you prefer not to spend the money on the attorney’s services, there are do-it-yourself options available, but frankly, do it yourself divorce is a risky proposition.

To find out what do-it-yourself options are available to you for your jurisdiction, visit the local courthouse and the law school nearest you; they may have forms and even clinics that offer help and guidance in the DIY process. You can (and should) read about divorce online to educate yourself about what divorce is and how the law applies and functions, but before you order a set of DIY divorce forms online, talk with the people at the courthouse and law schools to get your bearings.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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What advice would you give to someone who has just started a divorce?

What advice would you give to someone who has just become one of the parties in a divorce proceeding?

#1. Know this: divorce law and the divorce process are almost surely not what you think they are. They are scarier, more complex, more confusing, more time-consuming, more expensive, more disappointing, and more discouraging than you can imagine. Ignore my words at your peril. 

#2. Don’t sign anything your spouse asks you to sign without reviewing it with a good divorce lawyer. Don’t let what your spouse tells you about “how it’s gonna be” upset or worry you. Don’t believe him/her when he/she says, “My lawyer says you must ______” or “I have the best lawyer in town.” Most of what your spouse tells you will be lies meant to intimidate, coerce, and dupe you. 

#3. Don’t take friends’ and family members’ advice as as substitute for the advice of a good attorney. Your friends and family members usually mean well, but have no idea what they’re talking about. 

#4. Keep an eye on your valuable things and information. They tend to disappear once a divorce is filed. Secure: 

  • your financial accounts against your spouse draining them; 
  • your important documents (this is not an exhaustive list): 
    • tax records 
    • loan/debt records, loan and credit applications 
    • appraisals/valuations 
    • bank/financial institution records 
    • insurance records 
    • birth certificates 
    • Social Security cards 
    • passports (for you and the kids) 
    • pay stubs 
    • account statements 
    • certificates of title 
    • estate planning records 
    • business records 
    • medical and health care records (for every member of the family) 
    • photographs 
    • your prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, if you have one 
    • etc. 

Inventory everything (take videos and photographs of it all) that you own (both jointly and separately); 

  • make sure your password-protected accounts (e-mail, cell phone, social media, credit cards, bank/financial institution accounts, bills to pay, financial accounts, credit cards, etc.) cannot be accessed by your spouse without your advance knowledge and consent; 
  • route your personal mail to a P.O. Box to which only you have access; 

#5. Don’t act out of fear or anger or revenge. If you do, you may do your case irreparable damage. Keep a cool head. Get a good divorce attorney’s advice. 

#6. Talk to a good divorce lawyer (not just any lawyer, not just any divorce lawyer, but a good divorce lawyer) now. Right now. Not next week. Now. Right now. Pick up the phone and make an appointment with a good divorce lawyer right now. Timing can and usually is crucial in divorce. 

  • The longer you put off speaking with a good divorce lawyer the more you lose (possibly forever) the benefits of knowing what you can and should be doing right now to protect and preserve your interests and those of your children (if you have minor children). 
  • Notice that I did not write “hire a good divorce lawyer right now.” If you can hire a good divorce lawyer right now, do it. The sooner you get competent legal representation the better. No exceptions. 
  • But if you do not have (or falsely believe you do not have) the money to afford a good divorce lawyer, scrape together enough money to meet and confer with a good divorce lawyer for an hour. It will be one of the best investments you ever make. 
    • A good divorce lawyer is not a bulldog. A good divorce lawyer is not a shark. a good divorce lawyer is not someone who is effective at cheating ( as the old Bosnian proverb goes, “He who will lie for you will lie to you.”) A good divorce lawyer is someone with experience, skill, and decency. These kinds of divorce lawyers exist, but are very hard to find. But they are worth finding. If you want your divorce to be less expensive, less time-consuming, and less miserable, find this kind of good divorce lawyer. 

#7. Unless you are young, penniless, childless, and convinced your spouse won’t or can’t hang you out to dry in divorce, don’t go the DIY route. Hire a good divorce lawyer, if at all possible. 

  • If you: 
    • earn money or receive money from other sources 
      • are self-employed 
    • own property of any kind 
    • have money in the bank, investment accounts, or tied up in a pension and/or retirement accounts 
    • have debts and obligations 
    • are financially dependent upon your spouse 
    • have a spouse who is financially dependent on you (in full or in part) 
    • have minor children 
    • are married to a malicious or crazy-malicious person 
      • have been accused of abusing your spouse or children, 

then odds are high that trying to divorce without a good lawyer’s representation throughout the divorce case is going to be absolutely miserable.  

 Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277   

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What’s the best divorce advice?

If you did everything you could to ensure that your marriage got off to the best start possible, but divorce has reared its ugly head through no fault of your own, the best thing you can do when you get ambushed by divorce is to go see a good (a good, not just any) divorce lawyer as soon as possible to learn about the divorce process and find out what you must do to succeed in going through the divorce process.

It’s all but impossible to go through divorce unscathed, but there are many other things you can do to ensure that you do not get unnecessarily burned by divorce.

And talking to a good divorce lawyer as soon you believe it may be wise is the best advice I can possibly give as a first step.

My other form of the best divorce advice is for those who are contemplating marriage and wanting to avoid divorce: make sure that you are sufficiently mature and emotionally prepared and disciplined to take that step and stick with the commitment. You do not have to be perfect, you don’t have to be invincible, but you do have to be prepared to experience married life, both its agonies as well as its ecstasies. People in successful marriages will tell you it has not always been easy and that it has been heartbreaking at times, but on balance it is far more of a benefit than a burden. Still, to be successful in marriage means you must be prepared to pay the costs a good marriage demands.

Our divorce rate of around 50% is far too high. Many people believe that leaving their current marriage to find a better relationship is the solution. It’s not. If you’re miserable in your current relationship, and you’re not married to a physically or emotionally abusive spouse, the problems in the marriage are likely of you and your spouse’s own creation, and only you and your spouse can fix them together. It is much easier to repair a struggling but otherwise viable marriage than it is to go through destroying that marriage and trying to start over again.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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When it comes to divorce and family law firms, never hire on faith and hope

Do your research with due diligence. Interview a lot of different firms and attorneys (I’m talking 5 to 10, not just 2 or 3—you’ll never get a feel for the diversity of competence and incompetence unless you do). Don’t be offensive in your questioning, but do ask candid and serious questions of those you interview to get an idea of the lawyer’s (and of the office’s) personality and professional culture, and approach to the work.  

Lawyers are trained to be persuasive, so don’t be taken in by simply what they say or how well you perceive they say it. Most lawyers who are mediocre and incompetent can still charm you in conversation fairly well, if you’re not discerning.  

Don’t hire the least expensive or the most expensive attorney. Hire the best attorney you can afford, and if the best attorney you can afford is incompetent, then you either need to get more money for a good attorney or you’re probably better off with no attorney at all. Paying an incompetent attorney is just wasting your money.  

Don’t base your decision on online reviews. Great online lawyer reviews are easy to fake and usually are fake.  

Don’t hire based solely or primarily upon the recommendations of friends alone. Some friends have no idea who’s good or bad, but they “recommend” people so that they look smart and connected, not really to help you. Some friends surprisingly don’t know a good attorney from a bad one, even if they think they do.  

Even when you’ve done your best to ensure you hired a good attorney, it is virtually impossible to know whether you’ve hired a good or bad divorce and family lawyer until after you’ve worked with him/her for a few days or weeks. Pay close attention in those first days and weeks.  

“Hire slow, fire fast” is good advice for who your attorney is. Take your time to find who you believe—after conducting a solid investigation—is a good attorney before you hire one. In the unfortunate event you realize your attorney stinks, don’t beat yourself up about; many, many lawyers succeed by being deceitful. But once you discover your choice of attorney was a bad choice (a bad lawyer), replace him/her as fast as you reasonably can. Don’t try to reform your bad attorney. Odds are high that it won’t work. Don’t hold on to your incompetent attorney because of sunk costs. Your lousy attorney will only cost you more the longer he/she stays on your case. Hire slow, but fire (when you need to fire) fast.  

If your lawyer: 

  • (or a member of his/her staff) returns your calls and emails and text messages promptly and addresses all of your questions and concerns (your good, thoughtful questions and concerns—if you are the type who runs to the phone or the computer in a panic or on a whim with any and every question having failed to do your own homework first, expect your lawyer to get testy with you sooner than later); 
  • (or a member of his/her staff) promptly sends you complete copies of correspondence with opposing counsel and others involved in the case; 
  • (or a member of his/her staff) promptly sends you complete copies of everything he/she files with the court and that opposing counsel files with the court; 
  • (or a member of his/her staff) sends you drafts of the motions and other documents he/she is preparing to file with the court, so that you can review and comment on them and approve them for filing with the court before they are filed with the court; 
  • and his/her staff reflect a desire to do their best in every aspect of their work; 
  • checks in with you regularly to give you update and to see how you’re holding up; 
  • explains the legal process to you before you file your case and as your case unfolds; 
  • shows up to court on time, is clearly knowledgeable of the facts and the applicable law, and is prepared to argue your case zealously at hearings; 
  • isn’t afraid to tell you when your case or elements of your case is/are weak, and doesn’t offer or agree to do whatever you want “if the price is right”; and  
  • isn’t afraid to take your case to trial (in other words, isn’t champing at the bit to get you to agree to quick and dirty settlement), 

you likely have a good lawyer. A lawyer who delivers real value for the money you pay your lawyer. If your lawyer or his/her staff doesn’t do these all of these things, you likely have a bad lawyer.  

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277  

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How do I file a response in a divorce if the summons is invalid?

How do I file a response in a divorce if missing the court’s address for filing invalidates the summons?

Be very careful getting cute with procedural technicalities. If you were served with a summons that is defective only because it does not include the address of the courthouse where the underlying action was filed, you may or may not have an argument for defective service of process. But to test that theory you may have to take the risk of being defaulted and then moving to set aside the default and default judgment and hoping you prevail on that motion. That is not a risk I would be willing to take myself. 

What you need to do immediately is consult a good attorney (i.e., a knowledgeable, skilled one) and fast, i.e., before the time in which to file a responsive pleading has expired, so that if you, after conferring with at least one good attorney, determine you need to file something with the court before the responsive pleading time expires you can. 

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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Do top lawyers advertise?

I have yet to see the best of the best lawyers advertise, and the most likely explanation is that they don’t advertise because they don’t need to advertise. 

But if you think this means any lawyer who doesn’t advertise “must be the best of the best,” you’d be wrong (that is, if I recall correctly, committing the fallacy of affirmative conclusion from a negative premise). While the best attorney’s do not advertise, that does not mean that any attorney who does not advertise is the best. Some lousy attorneys don’t advertise because they’re too poor or too lazy to advertise. Some excellent attorneys advertise (even though they might not need to do so). 

But there are the truly elite lawyers who are so good that they don’t need to advertise—those who need their particular kind of service know (or know people who know) who they are. 

Which brings up a good point: most advertising consists lies and deception. Anyone who buys any good or service based exclusively or even primarily upon the impression the advertising for that good or service made on the buyer is a fool. Advertising tries to find you. If you want quality, however, you must usually seek, define, and find it yourself. 

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277 

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How can I make my abusive husband divorce me?

Short of holding the proverbial gun to his head (i.e., forcing him to do so against his will), you can’t.  

While you might contrive to motivate your husband to file for divorce against you by committing marital fault yourself, that might cause the court to disfavor you when making the rulings and judgments in the divorce, so you don’t want to go that route.  

If you want your husband to be the one to file for divorce so that you can claim aggrieved/martyr status, you may have to wait a long time, if he ever does in fact file for divorce.  

The good news is that if you want a divorce in the United States you do not have to wait for your husband to file for divorce to obtain a divorce. You can file for divorce yourself, and you can do so without having to blame him for anything (this is what a “no-fault divorce is; obtaining a divorce without having to allege you or your husband is at fault). 

If you are afraid that you won’t be awarded alimony or child custody or some other thing or benefit in the divorce action if you file for divorce, that’s likely not the case (I can’t speak for divorce law in all jurisdictions, but I am not aware of any U.S. jurisdiction that “punishes” a spouse merely for being the one to file for divorce).  

Besides, if your husband is abusing you—AND YOU CAN PROVE THAT (as opposed to merely asserting it in a “your word against mine” situation)—then you’re not only well within your rights to be the one to file for divorce, you are clearly justified in filing for divorce. No decent court is going to fault you for filing for divorce to escape abuse.  

Go meet with an attorney. Find out more about how the law governing divorce works in your jurisdiction. Determine what your options are, balance the risks against the benefits. Learn what you can and should do to prepare for divorce as fairly and successfully as possible.  

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277  

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How much should you trust your lawyer? Part 2

This blog is in response to a comment made to a  video entitled How much should you trust your lawyer?

“The biggest problem I’ve encountered with attorneys isn’t legal competence but the “to a hammer, everything looks like a nail” problem. Emotions not motions is often the answer.”

I hear that frequently. And it is a good point, but 1) it means different things to different people and 2) it’s not as good a point an many people (particularly clients of lawyers) think.  

Yes, there are attorneys who stir up trouble and litigate either because they know no other way or because it’s lucrative for them. But there are also attorneys who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty and do the necessary and difficult work of making the sausage once a dispute is submitted to the court’s for resolution. Many clients find they don’t have the stomach for seeing how the sausage is made. They come to realize they didn’t understand just how difficult, time-consuming, and costly litigation is. Rather than admit that they made a mistake, they will often claim that the lawyers and the legal system are the problem.* 

Many clients want to believe that “if we’d just talk it out, the opposing side and I could work it out.” This is true in some, but not all, cases. If “we can work it out between us ourselves, without involving attorneys and the courts” were true, most people who hire lawyers wouldn’t hire lawyers because they would have no reason and no need to hire lawyers.  

The fact is that many people can’t or won’t resolve their differences voluntarily between them. They take positions that they feel are irreconcilable, and when that happens, one or both of them resorts to litigation. 

Subsequently, the clients who hire lawyers get frustrated (and many times justifiably so) with how needlessly and/or inexplicably expensive, slow/inefficient, and nerve wracking the legal process is. That’s often when the parties on both sides of the dispute suddenly “see the light” and “wonder why” they are engaged in litigation when all they need to do is speak from the heart.  

Experiencing the miseries of litigation often motivates the parties to believe it’s better for them to settle out of court. Somehow they come to see that a dispute that the parties thought was irreconcilable becomes something they can and should quickly and simply compromise.  

*I personally believe that many court procedures and systems are either outright designed or at least administered in such a way as to make the process miserable, so that the parties will settle their case out of court (thus relieving the burden on the legal system). This is wrong, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.  

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277  


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How do I get a quick, cheap divorce?

    • Easiest way up front, but usually most foolish, most financially and psychologically expensive in the long term: give your spouse whatever he she wants/demands (while it is possible for your spouse to make a proposal for a divorce settlement that is perfectly fair to you both, this rarely happens. I’ve seen it happen, but it’s one of those black swan occurrences).  
      • If you’re willing to do give your spouse whatever he/she wants in divorce, your spouse may (unless he/she has tremendous chutzpah) even do all the work necessary to process the divorce case to completion (at your expense, of course), so that all you need to do is sign a document or two that results in you losing everything to your spouse.  
      • If it weren’t obvious yet, I’ll be more concise: odds are that if agree to whatever your spouse proposes for divorce, your spouse will take extreme advantage of you.  
      • It’s easy to step off a cliff, but the consequences are hard, lasting, and usually irremediable.  
      • If you believe that “being conciliatory” will make the divorce process easier, you are mistaken. That’s “let the leeches bleed in the hope it will persuade them to stop bleeding you” thinking. 
    • Second easiest (and usually still highly foolish and long-term damaging) way: don’t hire—or at least confer with—a lawyer and do it all yourself.  
      • Can you get a divorce without a lawyer? Yes. It’s getting easier every day with all the resources the internet is making available to do it yourselfers.  
      • Does that mean that the DIY divorce is likely to be one of high quality? One that covers all the legal bases? One that does not result in you making boneheaded, irreversible mistakes? No, not likely. Not bloody likely.  
        • If you and your spouse are young, dirt poor, have no assets of high value, have no crushing amounts of debt, have no children, haven’t been married long, and neither of you want alimony, then a DIY divorce may be worth the risk because even if it works against you, you should be able to recover from it without suffering for a lifetime. Otherwise, a purely DIY divorce usually ends badly for one or both spouses.  
      • I know that to a non-lawyer divorce law seems/feels like it should be fairly intuitive and straightforward. Common sensical. It is not. Really, it is not. I know you want to believe that there is no reason why you and your spouse cannot sit down with some pre-printed forms or online program, fill in the blanks, and be done and at peace. Save time. Save money. Avoid conflict. It’s so tempting to believe such a thing. So comforting. But it’s not true. It’s worse that untrue. It leads to wasted time, money, and to more pain.  
        • Lawyers make good money trying (note I wrote “trying,” not “succeeding”) to help people undo the damage their DIY divorces have done. Wouldn’t you rather spend money on a lawyer to prevent trouble, rather than to help (try to help) you clean up your mess? 
      • If you want to go the DIY route, please, please, please include in the process conferring with a good divorce lawyer (a good divorce lawyer, not just any lawyer) before you start and after you fill out the forms BUT BEFORE YOU SIGN ANYTHING. It will be some of the best money you have ever spent.  

Third easiest (and the least popular) way: Hire—or at least confer with—a good divorce lawyer (a good divorce lawyer, not just any lawyer; there are a lot of lousy divorce lawyers out there) to assist you with what you need to ensure the divorce is handled as well as can be. It will cost you money. If you hire an attorney to represent you throughout the process, it will cost you a lot of money. If your spouse is out to ruin you financially and out to ruin your relationship with your children, you will spend—and need to spend—unimaginable amounts of money on your divorce and your divorce lawyer to prevent the outcome from being even worse than they would be in the absence of a good divorce lawyer’s help.  


There are a lot of bad divorce lawyers out there. Beware. But all divorce lawyers are not bad. The good ones (the skilled ones who deliver real value) are hard to find, but can be found, and are worth finding when you have the need.  

Can there be a point at which the value of a lawyer’s help—even when the lawyer is doing his/her best work for you—doesn’t justify the expense? Yes. Of course. Sometimes the judge has it in for you and you can see you’ll never get a fair shake. Sometimes you can see that your spouse is bent on your financial and emotional ruin. There are times when it makes sense to surrender, to give up because spending money and effort and emotional capital on your divorce becomes a matter of diminishing returns. Otherwise, a good lawyer is worth more to you than the costs.  

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277  

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Law from a legal assistant’s point of view, week 52: One year

By Quinton Lister, legal assistant  

Well, I made it. 

There was no real worry that I could not do it, but being a legal assistant is not an easy job and there were days when I doubted myself, as I assume all people do at one point in time or another in any difficult, challenging job.  

I have learned so much as a legal assistant to a divorce attorney. The sheer amount of things I have discovered just by virtue of showing up for work each day astounds me. I still feel like a complete neophyte (yes, I still remember that word and what it means), but I also know that I am not that complete of a neophyte anymore despite how I feel. 

For all those who are wondering, hiring a good attorney is worth it. The legal jungle is thick, dark, and treacherous. Frankly, you cannot afford not to hire a good attorney. I have learned that lesson in my time as a legal assistant here, and it is what has convinced and inspired me to study the law myself.  

Thanks for reading for a year, and we will write again soon. 

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277 

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Law from a legal assistant’s point of view, week 51

Law from a legal assistant’s point of view, week 51: Should you be a legal assistant?

By Quinton Lister, legal assistant  

One question you might be asking yourself if you have been reading my blog for the past year is, “Should I be a legal assistant?” Even if you are not asking yourself this question, I will answer it anyway because it is something that I do not merely feel, but know that I am more qualified now to address (and that I won’t get fired for addressing honestly). 

If you want to know if you should be a legal assistant, consider how you would answer the following questions: 

  • Do I want to learn more about what it is like to be a lawyer? Then you would likely benefit from being a legal assistant.  
    • In my mind, if I did not want eventually to be a lawyer myself, I would not gain much from doing my job as a legal assistant.  
    • Many times, legal work can be a thankless job, even for attorneys, so if you have no curiosity about what it is like to be a lawyer or what it means to work in a law practice, you can make the same money doing a different, less demanding job than that of legal assistant. 
  • Am I willing to humble myself and learn another culture and “dialect”?  
      • The legal profession can feel like landing in a foreign country when you first start. It has its own culture and it’s own “language”. And even though we’re still speaking English (with a little Latin mixed in) and living within a few miles of each other, the language and culture of the law is shockingly foreign.  
      • As is the case with learning and succeeding in any new culture and with any new language, you become immersed and fluent. That requires humility and patience. If you have those two things, coupled with an honest desire to work, you will do all right. 
  • Are you willing to make a lot of mistakes, get the wrong answer to questions, and learn from when you are wrong? The mark of a good lawyer, and by extension a good assistant is the ability to admit when one is in the wrong and to acknowledge that being in the wrong is often the result of being ignorant. The best work we can do comes when we are willing to make mistakes, report the mistakes (not waiting for our mistakes to be discovered), admit to the mistakes, and then learn from those mistakes so that we don’t repeat them. The faster and better you can do all that, the better legal assistant you will be. 

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277 

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How would my fiancé go about getting any sort of custody for his child?

That is an extremely broad question. The best way to start: find a good domestic relations lawyer (a good one, not just any) and schedule a consultation with him/her so that your fiancé can explain the situation to the lawyer, learn from the lawyer what your fiancé’s options may be, and ask what the lawyer might advise your fiancé to do. 

Free consultations are usually a “get what you pay for situation,” so forewarned is forearmed. And most “free consultations” are really sales pitches in disguise. Better to schedule a consultation that you have paid for. You will get more of the attorney’s attention and more likely will get an objective assessment of the case. 

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277  

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Law from a legal assistant’s point of view, week 38: Arb-med, part II

By Quinton Lister, legal assistant

Last week I wrote a post about Arb-med and how it can benefit practitioners of law, particularly family law. In this post I will be addressing the specific benefits of Arb-med to those who are going through divorce.

  1. Arb-med is faster than litigation. While any case, no matter what form of resolution you seek, can drag out, arb-med is streamlined to work to a resolution as efficiently as possible. After you are done arbitrating you move straight to mediation.
  2. Arb-med is cheaper than litigation. A major benefit of the efficient design of arb-med is that it costs significantly less than litigating your case. Avoiding unnecessary debt is a huge bonus.
  3. Arb-med generates better resolutions than litigation. Most judges do not have the time nor the specific expertise required to always get the judgment right in a given divorce case. Arb-med puts your case in the hands of an experienced family law practitioner with both the time and expertise to get the judgment right.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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Why are child support and custody attorneys so expensive?

Because the work: 

  • requires a lot of knowledge of both the written (and unwritten*) rules that most people don’t have the time, interest, or ability to learn and apply correctly; and 
  • is miserable. 

This is why people with family law disputes either cannot or will not do the work themselves and would rather pay (even when it hurts) to have a skilled attorney (if you don’t hire a skilled attorney you’re just flushing your money and effort and odds of success down the toilet) do the work for them. 

One more factor: 

  • people who represent themselves in their own legal matters (any legal matter, including divorce and family law matters) are often treated shabbily by the courts and by the opposing party’s attorney. Even if you knew your stuff as well as an attorney, the fact that you are not attorney leaves many in the legal profession to look down their noses at you. 
    • In fairness, most people who are not lawyers who try to navigate the legal system make more than a mess of their case; they waste a lot of time and cause a lot of unnecessary trouble. 
    • Many people who represent themselves don’t do so because they are poor but because they are mentally ill. This is another reason why self-represented parties are looked upon with skepticism, suspicion, and distrust by the courts. 

*You’d be forgiven if you read the statutes and rules and then thought you know how they apply. The truth is that 1) the courts have such broad discretion to construe and apply the rules that it’s truly impossible to predict the outcome of your case based upon what the written statutes and rules provide; and 2) many courts twist and violate the statutes and rules (some inadvertently, some intentionally) in the name of “doing what’s right” or by invoking the justification of justifications: “the best interest of the child.” 

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277  


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Law from a legal assistant’s point of view, week 33

By Quinton Lister, legal assistant 

One part of my job as a legal assistant that I have yet spoken of has been my day-to-day interaction with potential clients. When you call a lawyer’s office you will almost assuredly first speak with a receptionist or with a legal assistant like me, and not with the lawyer himself.  

Now before I go further, we want to make legal advice and assistance as available to as many people as we can, but many people don’t seem to understand how a law office operates.  

May I suggest what you should do when you call a law office for the first time?  

First, remember that I do not own or run the office. I’m the legal assistant. Asking me questions I can’t answer and trying to haggle with me will not get you free advice or a free consultation. That’s not my decision and I’m not qualified to give legal advice. My role is limited essentially to two basic things: 1) helping you schedule an appointment with the lawyer who can actually answer your legal questions and evaluate your case, and 2) providing background information on the firm and what it does.  

Second, understand that a legal assistant is not a lawyer and thus does not know the answers your legal questions. This is not only an issue of pragmatism, but it is also an ethical matter. If I were to try to give you legal advice without being a lawyer, my boss could get in trouble for it. 

Third, while there are many questions about the office and what we do that I can answer and that I am happy to answer for you, there is a difference between asking a quick question that I can handle in a minute or two and several questions that would take, at best, half an hour or more to answer.  

Fourth, lawyers are like everyone else who works for a living. They aren’t in the business of working for free. They can’t be. Lawyers are expected to provide about 50 hours of free legal advice or assistance per year to those who truly cannot afford to pay for it, but unless the lawyer is independently wealthy, he can’t give away his services every day. Yet I am amazed at the number of people who call our office not just daily but hourly asking for free legal advice, even free legal representation. 

Fifth, the lawyer in our office works throughout the work day. He is quite busy during the work day. He’s rarely free to answer the phone when someone makes an unexpected, unscheduled call to the office. Please do not be upset or offended if you are told when you call the office that there is no lawyer available to speak to you at that very moment. When people call our office and the lawyer isn’t available to take their call, I offer to schedule a time for them to meet with or speak with the lawyer as soon as he is available either later that day or later in the week. That is the best that he and I can do, and we hope you understand why. 

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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What is a costly part of divorce that almost no one thinks of ahead of time?

Every aspect of divorce. Every single one. 

Two cannot live separately and divorced for less than they did together. 

Litigation is mind-bogglingly expensive and protracted. 

Even an uncontested divorce can result in tremendous expenditures incurred to get divorced, a substantial loss of one’s net worth as a result of the division of the marital estate, and years of future financial obligations in the form of child support and alimony. 


  • Clients are often shocked by the cost of the court filing fee 
  • Clients are often shocked by the cost of service of process 
  • Clients are often shocked by how much of their time a divorce action take up. It can feel like it takes up or even actually takes up as much time as a second job 
  • Clients are often shocked by the emotional toll divorce takes 
  • Clients are often shocked by the cost of attorney’s fees 
  • Clients are often shocked by the cost of expert consultants 
  • Clients are often shocked by the cost of the child custody evaluator (which is doubly shocking because child custody evaluations are such an obscene waste of time, money, and effort, given their comparatively minimal probative value) 
  • Clients are often shocked by how much child support they will pay or how little child support they will receive. 
  • Clients are often shocked by both 1) how much alimony they will pay or how little alimony they will receive, and 2) for how long 
  • Clients are often shocked to learn that their pensions and retirement savings accrued or acquired during the marriage are divided equally with their spouses when they believed that they would get to keep all of the pension and retirement funds in their own individual name for themselves. 
  • Clients are often shocked to learn that their house is not worth nearly as much as they thought 
  • fathers are often shocked to learn that there is an undeniable bias against them when it comes to making the child custody award. 

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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