Tag: hiring a lawyer

How to prepare for a consultation with a lawyer By Braxton Mounteer, legal assistant

You have just been served with a summons and complaint (or petition) for divorce. Now have to traverse the minefield that is finding a good divorce attorney. It’s harder to find a good lawyer than you think. I wish that weren’t true, but it is.

How do you prepare for initial consultations with the attorneys you are considering? I have found three things that can and will help you during your initial consultation.

You do not need to have clear objectives when you go to your initial consultation, but you should not be lost in the woods. You should have an idea of what you want in your divorce and be able to explain why and why what you want is fair (wanting to take your spouse for everything he or she is worth is not a winning strategy). You will likely have a good idea of what you want regarding custody of the children and the division of marital property and marital debt, so tell the attorney during your initial consultation and ask whether he or she agrees with your positions (and please be on the lookout for attorneys who will tell you what you want to hear, so that you’ll open your wallet and pour its contents into the lawyer’s hands).

All lawyers are not created equal. For far too many divorce lawyers the legal profession is a business, and you are a “sale”. Be wary of lawyers that promise you the moon. They usually want what’s in their best interest, not what’s in your and your children’s best interest.

Come to the consultations with an open mind. What you believe the law is or should be is quite often not that way. Rather than react with disgust, try to understand the law. You may still believe the law is silly once you understand it, but if you don’t understand it, you can’t work within the framework of the law knowledgeably and successfully.

A good lawyer will not sugar-coat the situation for you. He or she will give you a frank, honest opinion, even if that opinion may lead you to choose someone else. I know that’s what my boss does, but I also know that’s not what all lawyers do. Find a lawyer who will give you his or her honest opinion about the merits of your case and what you can realistically expect.

Finally, to maximize the value of your consultation, be prepared. Bring the documents with you that you believe may be relevant and useful for the attorney to review. If your spouse has already filed a divorce action against you and has served you with the complaint or petition for divorce, bring a copy of that with you to the consultation. It is easier to get an accurate look at your case when the lawyer can actually read what has been served on you.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

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

Tags: , ,

How much should you trust your lawyer?

The more power to be entrusted, the higher the stakes, the less I trust anyone under such conditions. 

Many of us find or will find ourselves in a situation where we must retain an attorney’s services. Essentially, it must be done, we have no real choice. Not retaining an attorney is worse than going it alone. 

Even then, hiring a lawyer does not relieve you of responsibility for your own case, of responsibility for protecting/advancing your interests. A good lawyer is a means of improving and augmenting your ability to do this, but only as long as you remain vigilant personally. If you don’t understand what your lawyer is doing or advising you to do, but “trust” that your lawyer is doing right by you, you’re just being lazy. If and when you fail to make informed decisions, you’re needlessly risking disappointment and failure, and that’s on you. You are responsible to find the best lawyer you can. I consider a good lawyer to be someone who is as honest and fair as he/she is skilled as a jurist and litigator. Don’t hire a mercenary, a shark. This calls to mind the proverb “He who will lie for you will lie to you.” 

Remember: a lawyer you can and should trust is not a lawyer who is infallible. Even the most trustworthy, skilled attorney cannot control the opposing parties, witnesses, law enforcement and court personnel, or the judge(s). Sometimes an attorney’s best advice fails. Any choice as to how to handle a legal matter is not without trade-offs and risks. That’s not a matter of how trustworthy your lawyer is. 

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

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
Click to listen highlighted text!