Tag: divorce attorney

Why would anyone choose to become a divorce lawyer?

That is a great question.

Most lawyers who have tried being divorce and family lawyers hate it and abandon it for other practice areas.

I can tell you why I chose to be a divorce and family lawyer:

  1. it’s one of the few practice areas where I can provide value for the fees I charge for the work I do. Not every divorce attorney provides value for the money (Lord knows), but for attorneys who are honest, decent people, it’s easier to provide a good value as a divorce attorney than it is in any other practice area I’ve tried. Fighting for your kids is worth it! Divorce and family law practice is very hard work (there are much easier ways to make good money as a lawyer), but I don’t feel like a thief doing the work. If there’s a better way to provide value for the money than as a decent, honest divorce attorney, I’d love to know (I really would) what it is.
  2. I have a talent for divorce and family law practice, and I am wired to handle what drives other attorney’s mad about divorce and family law practice.

Why I don’t like general civil litigation: When people ask me why I chose to be a divorce attorney I tell them the story of how people would come to me with problems like this: “X charged me $20,000 for _________, but _________ is defective, so how much would it cost me to sue X for this?” And I would tell them, “It’ll cost you about $20,000 to sue X, and even if you win AND collect the judgment (which is hardly guaranteed), then all you would do is break even. And collecting the judgment will usually cost you several thousand dollars more in attorney’s fees to find and obtain the money.”

Why I don’t like criminal defense: I found criminal defense work to be too discouraging because A) I don’t like defending guilty people; and B) I don’t like seeing innocent people get railroaded by the system (it happens more than I’d believed possible).

Why I don’t like criminal prosecution: Far, far too often it’s about getting a conviction, not getting to the truth.

Why I don’t like bankruptcy law: See why I don’t like criminal defense work.

Why I don’t like personal injury plaintiff’s work: Personal injury practice is cynically opportunistic and, in my opinion, is largely wealth confiscation masquerading as legal activity. Why I don’t like personal injury defense: It is, in my opinion, too often a game of trying to ensure that deserving people get little to nothing.

Why I don’t like collection work: See why I don’t like personal injury work.

Why I don’t like transactional legal work (things like writing contracts and estate planning documents): I thought that’s what I’d end up doing as a lawyer when I started law school, but when I participated in mock trials (which I did just to see what it was like), I found to my surprise that I liked it, and liked it a lot more than transactional legal work. I find the transactional work too boring to keep me engaged personally. We need good transactional lawyers, but it’s not work I’m best suited for myself.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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Is It a Conflict of Interest and Is It Unethical if I Saw My Divorce Attorney Hug My Husband in Court?

Not likely.

Black’s Law Dictionary (11th ed. 2019) defines conflict of interest as:

  1. A real or seeming incompatibility between the interests of two of a lawyer’s clients, such that the lawyer is disqualified from representing both clients if the dual representation adversely affects either client or if the clients do not consent. See Model Rules of Prof’l Conduct R. 1.7(a) (2013).

Conflict of interest can also include, in the legal representation context, as actions of one’s attorney that exploit the attorney-client relationship for the lawyer’s personal benefit or to the client’s detriment.

So, unless one could somehow show that your attorney hugging your husband in court somehow harming your case or benefiting your attorney at your expense, I don’t see how your attorney hugging your spouse would be a conflict of interest.

It may be awkward or in bad taste from under some circumstances, but a conflict of interest? Not likely.

If the hug raises suspicions as to whether there is a relationship between your husband and your attorney that is itself a conflict of interest, that would not mean that the hug itself is itself an act constituting a conflict of interest.

Each state is different in the way it sets its code of attorney ethics, but the American Bar Association has a model code that many states either adopt or adapt. Here are the three main rules governing conflicts of interest from the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct:

Rule 1.7: Conflict of Interest: Current Clients

Rule 1.8: Current Clients: Specific Rules

Rule 1.10: Imputation of Conflicts of Interest: General Rule

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

(10) Eric Johnson’s answer to Is it a conflict of interest and is it unethical if I saw my divorce attorney hug my husband in court? – Quora

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What are your thoughts on a second marriage?

My answer comes from the perspective of a divorce lawyer who’s been in practice for 26 years. Note that I believe in marriage. Although I am a divorce lawyer myself, I am not divorced, and God willing, I never will be. I would like nothing better than for everyone to be so happily married that I need to find another line of work. I support and advocate for marriage. And under the right circumstances, I believe in remarriage. While there are plenty of fun, satisfying, and fulfilling things one can and should do as an unmarried person, my life would be comparatively empty without my wife, my children, and the incomparable joys of being a husband and father. For all the people who tell you how glad they are to be unmarried and childless, few really mean it.  

If you found your first marriage to be difficult, the odds are that a second marriage will be harder than your first. This is not always the case, but it usually is. This is not to say that if your first marriage failed you should not want or try to remarry to seek and enjoy the blessings of marriage for yourself and to be a blessing to your spouse. If, however, you caused your first divorce or even struggled in your first marriage because of your own demons, you’ve likely got some serious character and personality flaws to correct before you can remarry successfully. Resolving your personal issues and correcting course not insurmountable, but it is unavoidable, if you want a second marriage to work. But take heart: it can be done, it’s worth doing.  

I was once asked what I believe the three main causes of divorce are. I answered that question with this: While there are many reasons one may need or feel the need to divorce, the “top 3” reasons are, in my experience: 1. Broken trust (whether that is caused by infidelity or hiding a substance abuse problem or failing to “pull one’s own weight” in the marriage relationship, etc.); 2. Placing self-interest ahead of fostering the marriage partnership (which usually takes the form of expecting your spouse to be perfect and to be solely or primarily responsible for your happiness); and 3. Immaturity and/or some kind of mental health disorder.  

Thus, while nobody can ensure a marriage never ends in divorce it is crucial to your marriage (whether it’s your first or second) that you and your spouse be and want to be trustworthy, be devoted, be responsible, be sober, and that you care and want to for your individual and your spouse’s mental and physical health. If you or your prospective spouse feel that’s asking too much, don’t marry for the second (or even for the first) time.  

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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Which is the best matrimonial site in the USA with a free trial?

There are many websites with lots of free information that is good. The problem is being able to tell the good content from the bad. This is why, whether you intend to hire a lawyer to handle some or all parts of your divorce case, you need to read a lot to get a solid understanding of how divorce works—and not just the general concepts of divorce, but also how divorce works specifically in your jurisdiction (i.e., the state and county and city where you will be filing for divorce). 

As for the best DIY divorce sites, I do not know of any completely free of charge sites, and I do not know which ones, if any, offer a free trial (if they did, most people would use the free trial and never pay). Again, you will want to review many of them to get a feel for what features they offer, how well these sites function, and how much they charge. You’ll want to find the site that caters to your skill level and budget without sacrificing the quality of their forms. 

I worked closely with (but I am not employed, or paid by, or an owner of) the people who created, which I think is one of the best DIY divorce sites for divorce in the U.S.A. (not worldwide) because it was created from the ground up around the non-lawyer DIY divorce site user. It’s designed to make the process of divorce and the choices you and your spouse make along the way understandable and clear. 

Remember: just because you are not a lawyer and just because you prepared your divorce forms yourself does not give you a “do over free” pass if the DIY forms you prepared were prepared incompletely, mistakenly, erroneously, or in any other a way that does not do what you wanted or intended. DIY divorce websites and forms are getting better and easier as technology advances, but they are still not a perfect substitute for a skilled lawyer’s help. So no matter which DIY site and forms you choose to use, BE SURE TO REVIEW THE FINAL PRODUCT WITH A SKILLED, EXPERIENCED LAWYER to ensure your forms are as you want them to be and as they need to be before you sign anything and before your file anything with the court. 

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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How do I get a copy of my restraining order that I have on my ex?

How do I get a copy of my restraining order that I have on my ex? I lost the original copy.

My answer applies to how you can obtain a copy of any order (not just a restraining order) in any case in which you are involved.  

Easiest (but a potentially expensive) way: pay a lawyer a few bucks to help you obtain a copy.  

Least expensive (but a potentially time-consuming and frustrating way) way: figure it out on your own.  

How to do it on your own: 

  • Go to the courthouse (if, in the age of COVID-19, your courthouse is open to the public) and ask an employee in the court clerk’s office to help you locate your case name and number, so that you can identify your restraining order in the file. Then request a copy of the restraining order. Be prepared to pay a copying fee.  
  • If you cannot go to the courthouse or if the courthouse is not open to the public (because of COVID-19), get the phone number and/or email address for the court clerk’s office, then call and/or email to request help in obtaining a copy of your restraining order. Be prepared to pay a copying fee, even if the copy is emailed to you.  

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277 

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Law from a legal assistant’s point of view, week 10: Divorce

By Quinton Lister, Legal Assistant 

I think most of the observations I am having as a new legal assistant are not groundbreaking, but my boss and I are learning that readers who are contemplating or going through divorce really like the observations of someone new to all of this because they have thoughts and feelings similar to mine, and for the same reasons—it’s all new to them, it’s all new to me.  

Most of my observations expressed in my blog posts are driving home points that I already knew at least something about in some respect. For instance, divorce is hard!  

That is not a unique observation, even those who have ever only heard of accounts of divorce can tell you that.  

I have heard plenty of jokes about ex-wives and ex-husbands. I have heard statistics about how about half of the marriages in the United States end in divorce, but even then, only working with someone going through divorce (which I get to do each day, with many clients each day, through my work) is causing me to learn to a greater extent how hard divorce really is. 

Divorce is sad, angering, burdensome, expensive, and heartbreaking. It not only affects the lives of those involved in the divorce, but extended family members, friends, co-workers, and more.  

Consequently, one thing that I understand much better after about 2 ½ months on the job is why people are so often in a bad mood (or worse) when I call them with news or with requests regarding the divorce action. Whether it be a client, another law office, or a court clerk, a call or email from me is usually (not always, but usually) bad news.  

See what misery people go through in most divorce cases causes me to see my own trials and challenges differently. Frankly, I am grateful I am not going through divorce myself. Though it is not easy getting on the phone at times with a client whose nerves are frayed and/or who’s been dealt another unfair blow, I would rather do that than experience some of the things I see clients and others going through. I am glad when I can be of service to them by doing my job effectively. Even though it may be painful in the moment, it’s good when I can spare some pain in the long run. 

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

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When should you hire a divorce attorney rather than a divorce lawyer?

In the U.S., “lawyer” is synonymous with “attorney” when it comes to describing one who is licensed to practice law. There is no difference between a lawyer and an attorney when it comes to hiring someone who is licensed to practice law.

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

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How to Identify a Good Divorce Lawyer, from the Client’s Perspective

Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to identify a good lawyer without using his/her services for a while to see if you “got it right” on your choice. There are, however, a few good rules of thumb to help you avoid a bad choice. This is how I’d do it, if I were not an attorney, but in the market for one:

With rare exception, new lawyers aren’t very good (I wasn’t when I was fresh out of school, even though I was trying my best and doing as well as could be expected of a newly-minted attorney). They don’t really teach you how to practice law in law school, they teach you a lot of information you’ll need in the practice of law, and they teach you how to pass the bar exam. But how to do the job is something a law school really was never intended to teach. You’re expected to learn the practice of law on the job. So a potential client will improve his odds of getting a good attorney by getting an experienced attorney. Look for a lawyer with at least about 7 consecutive years of experience in the field of practice you need help with.

Look for someone who can give you clear and straight answers to your questions (and an attorney who has the confidence and humility to answer your tough question with “I don’t know” may be a better choice than the attorney who appears or tries to appear to be a know it all).

Understand, understand, understand that you get what you pay for. While it is possible that you find a great attorney for cheap, the odds are highly against it. A good lawyer cannot do the job well without being paid well to do it.

Find someone you feel you can trust. Someone who works with your personality and your schedule. Now you have to do your part in your case. You have to accept the fact that your attorney isn’t going to be your legal slave (you will have to do a lot of your own work to help your case succeed). And you can’t just let your gut guide you, but if, after you’ve vetted a few attorneys and created a short list, you don’t feel you and a particular attorney on that list would be a good fit, you and he/she probably won’t be.

Don’t just interview 2–3 attorneys. Interview 5–6. Or more, if you have time. There are lot of attorneys, and so there are a lot of bad ones out there. Taking the time and effort to sort through them will be rewarded.

Once you’ve narrowed the field to 3 attorneys or so, go watch them in action in court. See how they conduct themselves. You can call the court clerk for the local courthouses and ask if and when that attorney is scheduled to appear in court and where. And you can turn this method on its head with good results too: just go to court and watch domestic relations proceedings. They are open to the public. Watch for attorneys you feel are prepared, knowledgeable, carry themselves well and know how to handle the give and take of argument and questioning witnesses. After the trial or hearing, go up and introduce yourself and ask if that attorney is taking on new clients.

Finally, and unfortunately, I’ve found that asking judges and other attorneys who they believe to be a good attorney has usually led me in the wrong direction. Why? Most judges and other attorneys believe a “good” lawyer is someone they get along with. ‘Nothing wrong with being well-regarded, but if the reason for that is because that lawyer “gets along to get along,” I’ve found that means that that lawyer values his/her relationships with judges and other attorneys more than doing the job well for his/her client. Beware.

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

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