Tag: legal counsel

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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Should I intentionally botch my hair follicle test?

Would it be better to botch my hair follicle test so it reads nothing, or allow the judge and the world to see what I’ve been doing the last 6 months? 

First, learn the truth about hair follicle drug test accuracy. 

Second, reduced to its essence your question is, “Should I lie/deceive?” No, you should not. 

Third, when people try to lie and deceive to gain an advantage, those who are caught in their lies and deception cannot be trusted anymore, even when they tell the truth. 

See “The Boy Who Cried ‘Wolf’”   

I know you don’t want to suffer for your wrongdoing. Few do. But it is part of the process of being accountable, responsible, and changing for the better. 

I know you fear (and with good reason) the punishment being excessive and unfair. But that doesn’t justify engaging in more wrongdoing. Two wrongs don’t make a right. 

If you are serious about being a responsible adult and changing for the better, you may, after conferring with a good (meaning not only a skilled but a decent) lawyer want to tell the court how you wrestled with this problem to show the court that you understand the difference between truth and lies, right and wrong, paying the price for one’s wrongs, and that you want no more and no less than for the punishment to fit the crime. 

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 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

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What will the court do if I do not pick up a letter my ex husband sent?

What will the court do if I do not pick up a letter my ex husband sent that needs to be signed by me from the courts about his back court ordered alimony of 20,000.00 that he is in default already and has been ordered by the courts several times? 

This is a question you need to ask of a local divorce attorney in your jurisdiction. 

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

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Law from a legal assistant’s point of view, week 44: Mountains

By Quinton Lister, legal assistant 

One prominent geographical feature of Utah (where I am a legal assistant for a divorce attorney) is the mountains that surround the cities and towns of the state. I grew up in Colorado where there are beautiful mountain ranges as well, and among the many natural beauties of Utah and Colorado, the mountains are some of the greatest.  

I have gone on several hikes through the mountains here in Utah and Colorado and it always amazes me how tired I get when going on these hikes. Mountain trails are almost always more steep and rugged than we believe or expect, often resulting in inexperienced hikers finding themselves surprised at how tired—sometimes even sick—they become. In extreme cases, people die when they are not mindful of the elevation, the pitch, the altitude, and their effects.  

I have found that in the legal system, we also should be “mindful of the territory” so to speak. There are so many different nuances and tricky “elevation changes” in the law that one must know what they are doing to navigate it successfully. Much like an experienced guide on a mountain trail, a good lawyer can help protect you from hurting yourself, or worse still, “perishing” in any way on your journey. If you are in legal trouble, be smart and consult legal counsel, and do your homework. It will save you from mental, emotional, and financial exhaustion in the long run (and in the short term for that matter). 

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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Should I use free family law resources?

Merely use them? I don’t see the harm in being familiar with them. Reading, watching, listening. Learning. That’s a good thing. A very good thing. Being dependent upon only free resources? No. That’s a bad thing. 

Should you use free resources exclusively, without paying an attorney to represent you or at least consult with you (assuming you can afford an attorney’s help)? No. The family law legal system is a mess, and if success is your aim, then trying to navigate it and understand it and work within it on your own would be, with rare exception, foolish. I wish it weren’t true, but it is. 

Ask sane people who thought they could represent themselves successfully in divorce and family law disputes how they fared. Precious few will tell you they have no regrets. Precious few will tell you they wouldn’t get an attorney’s help, if they had to do it all over again. 

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

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What is the first step if you get served with papers for divorce?

Rip off that band-aid and go see a lawyer immediately. Not “as soon as possible,” right now. Now. Without delay. Without any delay. 

Yes, I know you don’t trust lawyers. I know you think they are way too expensive. Go find the best lawyer you can and talk to him or her anyway. just go consult with a lawyer for half an hour or more. I’m not saying you have to run out and hire a lawyer immediately. But you do need to talk to a lawyer and find out what you’re up against in divorce. And you need to do it now. It will be one of the smartest decisions and one of the best investments you will ever make. It will be one of your biggest regrets if you don’t do it. 

So many people suffer by succumbing to the temptation to bury their heads in the sand when misfortune strikes. 

You have no time to waste. The quicker you act, the more options you have. 

Get on the phone and/or online and find a good lawyer (any lawyer is a waste of your time and money—do you best to find who appears to be the best lawyer you can find to consult) to meet with or talk with over the phone for at least 30 minutes. 

Be willing to pay a hundred dollars or so for a real, substantive consultation. 

“Free consultations” are hit and miss. Most “free consultations” are not for your benefit, but for the benefit of the lawyer. They’re sales pitches. You won’t learn much, and what you’re told may not be terribly frank and candid. 

Learn what you’re up against. It’s not what you think. No, really, it’s not what you think. 

No, really. It’s not what you think. 

Even if you cannot afford a good attorney (or believe you can’t) to represent you throughout your entire divorce case, NO ONE can afford not to consult with a good divorce attorney for at least half an hour just to get inoculated against the ignorance, the shock, the pain, the trickery, and misery one can (and likely will) experience when going through divorce. 

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

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What is the success rate of having a court-appointed legal aid?

I don’t know, and I doubt that statistics are kept on such a question. If there are such statistics, I do not know of them. 

Generally, the reputation appointed counsel has is being not as effective as paid counsel. 

But counsel is not appointed in Utah divorce and child custody cases anyway, so it’s not an option you’d have to concern yourself with. 

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

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How long will an attorney work on your case if you can’t afford to pay them any more? This would be for a divorce and they start to realize that they’re not going to get money from the other spouse.

It depends mostly upon whether your attorney has a big heart and/or no head for business. Generally, an attorney who takes your case without being paid as he/she goes, but defers payment in the hope that he/she will be paid out of what you collect from your spouse is probably not a very intelligent or competent attorney.

Some attorneys (usually new ones or desperate ones—and desperate ones are often new ones) will work a case, even if a client stops paying for his/her work, long after the client stops paying. These kinds of attorneys do this in the desperate hope that the client will eventually pay or because they believe that by getting stiffed they are heroes/martyrs.

In truth, however, these kinds of attorneys are simple fools because clients who have stopped paying (not fallen behind but got caught up—those kinds of clients are fairly common, and we’ve all been a little short sometimes, so it’s good when a creditor will cut us a little slack, as long as we don’t abuse the creditor’s good will) almost never, ever resume paying or paying their past due balances.

To be sure, sometimes a client honestly runs out of money, and when that occurs, the attorney must understand that he/she cannot stay in business working for people who don’t pay for his/her services.

There is a class of clients who are simply grifters; they seek out the easy marks and when they find them, they exploit them. These are people who deliberately plan on paying an attorney some money up front to get a case going (and to get the attorney mentally and emotionally invested in the case), who then stop paying but keep the attorney slaving away by telling the attorney things along the lines of, “Oh, I’ve had some hard times, but I will pay you just as soon as I can, so keep working and I’ll pay you eventually, I promise,” or “Once you win me that chunk of money, I’ll pay you out of that,” or, “Please help me! I need this so badly! Think of the children!!!,” stuff like that. Such clients are poison.

Some lawyers (I was such a lawyer once) believe that non-paying clients are better than no clients, so they keep working for non-paying clients in the pathetic (but all too human) belief/hope that the client will be so happy with the great work the attorney does that the client cannot help but finally pay the bill out of gratitude and decency. Such lawyers are chumps.

Other attorneys get a sense of nobility from working without pay “to help a struggling client” and to “make my little corner of the world a better place”. Now don’t get me wrong: attorneys will, at times, volunteer to help those who are poor, but there’s a difference between choosing to work without pay and being duped into working without pay. There’s nothing noble about being a sucker.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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