Tag: help

How Can the Legal System Better Support Parents Who Lose Custody Battles?

It does not matter whether or how the legal system could support or better support parents who lose child custody cases because it is not the purpose of the legal system to provide support to parents (custodial or noncustodial). The legal system hears and decides legal disputes. The legal system does not implement its decisions (its orders). It is up to those who obtain the orders to take the steps necessary to enforce them (and to enforce them lawfully).

While parents who lose child custody battles often suffer and need or could benefit from help, it is not the role of the legal system to provide help. In other words, you’re asking the wrong question. The right questions are, “What kind of help do parents who lose child custody disputes need?,” and “How can those who want to help these parents help them (and help them best)?”

Another good question is, “Are parents who lose a child custody dispute entitled to help?” We have all been—and will be in the future—unable to meet all our needs independently and have needed help from others. We are all morally obligated to help our fellow human beings. There is a difference, however, between moral obligations to help others and others’ claims to entitlement to other people’s help. Parents who are grieving or suffering from the loss of a child custody dispute are justified in asking for help from others, but not justified in demanding it from anyone.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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Law from a legal assistant’s point of view, week 42

Law from a legal assistant’s point of view, week 42: Do you like divorce law?

By Quinton Lister, legal assistant 

Often when I tell people I know that I am a legal assistant to a divorce attorney, I usually get asked if I like divorce law. The answer to that question is yes and no. I will start with the “no” part of my answer. Divorce, at it’s best, is miserable. Sure there are “amicable” divorces but it is a painful experience and subject for everyone involved, and so, understandably, most people are not happy or congenial when going through divorce. Even those who are happy and congenial, are experiencing immense pain and sometimes they project that on me because “I’m the assistant”. So, in that sense, no, I do not like divorce law because sometimes it is hard to deal with people going through divorce. 

I will now address the “yes” part of my answer. I do like divorce law because I know that the work I do to help my boss help his clients is important and helps people who need help. I have come to see how important competent legal counsel is and I believe that a good lawyer (meaning an honest and competent one) can do a lot of good for you. I see how that work can bless lives and so for that reason, yes, I do like divorce law. 

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277 

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How do I get help with a divorce?

Asking a question on Quora is a start and better than doing nothing (as so many people contemplating divorce do when they are too afraid to do anything), but only a start. Still, good for you for taking that crucial (though scary) first step. So what should you do next? 

    • Make sure that divorce is what you need. 
      • Far too many people mistakenly believe divorce is the answer, only to discover after the divorce that their marriages or their spouses were never really the problem in the first place. 
      • Schedule a few sessions with a counselor or therapist for yourself, to make sure that you are in the right frame of mind. 
        • If you believe it would help, and if your spouse is receptive, go to couples counseling too. Dig deep to determine whether your marriage truly is irretrievably broken. 
    • As with all professionals, therapists and counselors are not all created equal. If you get the impression that the therapist or counselor you are currently meeting with is a hack, find someone else. Be honest enough with yourself to know when you’re dealing with someone who’s advice and guidance is what you need, even if it may be what you don’t want to hear. 
    • Recognize that you are a child of God and that he wants to help you, Your spouse, and your children (if you have children) through this difficult time. Seek Him out, and ask for His help. 

If you determine that divorce is necessary: 

  • Keep getting the counseling or therapy you need, if you still need it. 
  • Keep seeking God’s guidance and help. No matter how bad your spouse may be, don’t make a bad situation worse by acting out of fear, despair, anger, vengeance, and greed. Don’t let divorce strip you of your decency. 
  • Read books and articles, watch videos, and listen to podcasts, but do so with a plan and purpose in mind. 
    • Read, watch, and listen to a lot. This will not be a matter of several hours, or even several days worth of work and studying, but weeks and months (perhaps even years). Do any less than that, and you will not be as prepared for divorce as you need to be. Period. The unprepared struggle the most, worry the most, and fail the most in divorce. And if you are wondering, no, there are no shortcuts. 
    • Reading two or three articles on child custody will not give you the grounding you need in the subject. Watching some angry, bitter guy on YouTube complain about child support and alimony may be somewhat informative, but will certainly not give you a completely accurate explanation of the subject. Listening to some boring podcast by some self-proclaimed but mediocre “expert” is not enough. I will note, however, that it is very good to get a sampling of A wide range of information and advice, because it will help you distinguish between what is of high quality and worth and what is not. 
    • Find the good material. Don’t waste time on the fluff and the outright garbage. There is so much free stuff available to you that it is easy to consume a lot of useless, or worse, that information and advice. Not everything you read, watch, and listen to will be of equal quality. Not everything you read or watch will be of good quality. With this in mind, remember that someone who has written a book or a published article has probably taken a far more care and attention to provide you with something of real substance and value than he or she who records a quick video clip in the car on a smart phone or who just rambles for 90 minutes in a podcast. In my experience, published written material is best, followed by well produced videos that are truly informational and that are not trying to sell you a product or service, followed by podcasts. 
    • Pay attention to what you are consuming. Eventually, you will reach a point where you will start noticing that the information you are getting is repeating itself. You will start to see some patterns emerge, and you will start to understand the subject of divorce better. At that same time, if you are being thoughtful, you will start to develop the ability to separate the wheat from the chaff. That’s when you know that your self-study has succeeded. Don’t stop studying at that point, but know that you have at that point gained a solid and useful understanding of divorce. 
  • Be smart enough to realize that it’s worth the money to meet with and discuss divorce with a knowledgeable, skilled, and experienced divorce attorney. An hour or two will be enough. 
    • The best time to meet with and confer with an attorney would be after you’ve spent an hour or two each day for about a week doing your best to learn about divorce on your own. This will help you to know what the good questions are you should ask of the attorney to determine just how skilled and knowledgeable the attorney is and how useful his or her observations, opinions, and advice are. It will help you to know what subjects to focus on with the questions you ask. 
  • Once you’ve learned what you can and should be doing to prepare for divorce, then you need to do that, and doing that as soon as possible, so that you are as well prepared as you can be before you file for divorce or before your spouse files for divorce. 
    • The better prepared you are, the more confidently you can take the right action. 

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

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How do I get free legal advice from a family law attorney on the custody of my 2 nieces?

In my experience, free legal advice is worth what you pay for it, but I understand that there are some (even many) who simply cannot afford an attorney (or believe they can’t) who need legal advice or assistance.

There are some sources of free or discounted legal advice and services. Generally speaking and in my experience, they are of poor quality, and if there are exceptions, they are hard to find and hard to identify.

Still, if you are desperate and feel that any advice/help is better than none (and bear in mind that in many instances bad legal advice/help can be worse than none), you can call the local or state bar association for the jurisdiction (state) where you live and ask it for a list of free or discounted legal assistance providers. That would, in my opinion, be the best place to start.

In Utah, where I practice divorce and family law, the Utah State Bar’s number is 801–531–9077. Their website can be access here: Utah State Bar | Serving The Public and Legal Professionals. Ask for reference to the free legal help services provided by or known to the Utah State Bar when you call, or visit the website to search these options.

Local law schools almost always offer some kind of pro bono legal help through programs staffed by volunteer law students or by students who, as part of their course, help find answers to legal questions or help provide legal representation.

You could also do a Google/Duckduckgo/Bing/Opera search for “pro bono legal help” or “pro bono legal assistance” or similar searches, as well as searches for “discount lawyer” or “low cost lawyer” etc. Again, be warned: cheap legal services are rarely a bargain (heck, they’re rarely any good at all). Be thorough in your search. Choose wisely.

Many who believe they cannot afford an attorney “discover”, after considering the cheap and free options, that they can (or more accurately, that they can’t afford not to spend the money on good advice/help). That’s not a knock on poor people, it’s just acknowledging that there is a reason why good legal advice/representation is expensive.

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

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Why do lawyers get paid no matter the results?

Why do lawyers get paid no matter the results?

Your question assumes a false fact. Lawyers are not always paid no matter the results.

One example is a contingency fee case. A contingency fee case is one in which the lawyer’s fee is contingent, i.e., conditioned, upon a particular outcome, usually the recovery of money damages, with the attorney receiving a portion of the damages awarded to the client), if the client does not win or settle, and thus if no money is recovered, then the lawyer does not get paid).

Another example is when a lawyer voluntarily works without getting paid. Lawyers who provide legal services free of charge usually do so when a client needs help but cannot pay, or if the lawyer wants to support a cause he/she cares about by donating his/her services without charge. This is known as pro bono publico (“for the public good”) or just “pro bono” service.

Another good old-fashioned example of a situation in which the lawyer is not paid, no matter the results, is when the lawyer does work for the client first, then bills the client for the work performed, but the client refuses to pay. When I was young and stupid, I encountered this problem on occasion. After a while (too long a while), I got tired of getting stiffed and I changed the way I billed and collected.

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

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If I start crying in court, will that help my case?

If I start crying in court, will that help my case?

This is a good question. An old and frequently asked question, but still a good question.

The answer is: maybe, but I wouldn’t risk it. Why?

Four reasons:

1) Lying is wrong. I hate lying, insincerity, weasel words, and B.S. Family law cases are awash in all of it. Judges know this. They witness it every day. Every single day without respite. They come to expect to be lied to. They thus often believe they’re being lied to even when you’re telling them them the truth. They can’t be blamed for feeling this way. If anyone believes that lying his/her way to success in court is a winning formula, then he/she deserves to lose, and I hope he/she does lose. Lying in court ruins it for everyone who is telling the truth.

2) Sometimes crying works, sometimes it doesn’t. It depends on your “audience”. Some judges are just plain suckers for the weeping and the waterworks. They subscribe to the “Never apologize for showing feeling. When you do so, you apologize for the truth” (Benjamin Disraeli) school of thought. Other judges take offense at crying, feeling as though you are trying to exploit their emotions, to play upon their sympathy. These are the judges who see crying the way Jean Giraudoux did (“The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that you’ve got it made.”

Yes, sometimes crying works, but most of the time everyone in the room sees it—clearly and unequivocally—for what it is: fake. Most crying in family law court is fake (not all, but most). Therefore, even if you show genuine emotion in court, odds are that the court will believe you’re faking it. Crying is a gamble with worse than even odds. Even if your emotion is genuine, odds are your judge will perceive it as feigned. Don’t cry in court, if you can help it.

3) Most people aren’t convincing actors, and their staged crying is pretty easy to spot. Not a judge on earth likes being manipulated or played, so when confronted with crying, they err on the side of disbelief. I rarely see crying work in court.

4) If self-interest, rather than truth, is your guiding principle, then don’t fake the crying because the odds of success are too slim to warrant the risk.

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

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Has the ability of lawyers to advertise been beneficial to our legal system?

Unquestionably, yes.

Now don’t misunderstand me. When I say that the ability of lawyers to advertise has been unquestionably beneficial to our legal system, that does not mean I’m saying it has been nothing but beneficial to our legal system. Overall, the benefits outweigh the detriments.

While the most visible lawyer advertising is almost universally cheesy and in bad taste (and from only a few kinds of lawyers, mostly personal injury, disability, bankruptcy, and tax lawyers, and maybe divorce lawyers), and in some cases even misleading, the fact that lawyers can advertise makes it easier for people to be aware of lawyers’ services and how to make contact with lawyers to seek those services, so that they can get help through those services.

It would be wonderful if all advertising were held to a standard that prohibited any advertising that was false or misleading. But no such standard exists because no such standard can exist. Advertising is all around us and can be overwhelming. Advertising on and around every corner can be—and frequently is—an eyesore. Still, we benefit from advertising because it makes us aware of (free of charge to us and without us having to go to any effort to explore on our own) the goods and services available to us. Our lives are richer and safer and healthier and more enjoyable, etc. because we are made aware of the goods and services out there that but for advertising we would never learn of. Lawyer services are no exception.

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

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