Saturday, December 7, 2019

What You Don’t Know About Divorce Lawyers

March 19, 2019  

In case you haven’t already, chances are that sometime in your life you’ll need to retain the services of legal counsel. Thanks to my discussion with Tampa Attorney Christina Mesa, what follows is a variety of answers to frequent as well as important questions.

1. QUESTION: Do I have to hire an attorney in the county where the case occurs?

ANSWER: No. Many attorneys practice in other counties and other states, depending on their licensure for the latter. Having knowledge in the county wherein the matter will be litigated is essential as that attorney will have a level of comfort with the neighborhood courthouse personnel, lawyers (likely opposing lawyer) and judges. One consideration in retaining an attorney outside the area in which the matter occurs is cost of journey time. Some lawyers do not charge for travel, others offer a decreased rate or preserve a billable rate for all work carried out. Talk about that question with each attorney consulted.

2. QUESTION: How am I able to make certain my attorney is resolving my issues?

ANSWER: Every good lawyer monitors his time (fees) and expenditures (costs). Your retainer agreement should include a statement of how the attorney bills his clients – once a month, quarterly, etc. You may even track your case in some jurisidictions that supply on-line accessibility to case dockets. If the county has that set up, you are wise to periodically review the docket and see what events have taken place by your lawyer and the other party/counsel. It’s also advisable to feel comfortable contacting your lawyer at intervals to determine the status of the issue, understanding you’ll likely be billed for these interactions.

3. QUESTION: How do I select an attorney at law?

ANSWER: Legal subjects are as vast as those in other sectors, such as medicine, construction, finance, etc. and might be just as perplexing. To protect your rights and remedies, the very best practice would be to research your area of need and research what law firms are accessible to work with you. A recommendation from somebody you know and regard can add a personal element to the decision to hire an law firm but really should not be the singular reason counsel is chosen. Look into the lawyer’s background of education, practical experience and area(s) of practice. Asking important questions should be encouraged in this process. Self-help could be empowering but can also reduce or negate your recovery. Hiring a law firm should be considered with the exact same degree of thought and consideration as that given to the choice of a physician, accountant, financial expert or therapist.

4. QUESTION: How do I determine if I require a lawyer?

ANSWER: If you have recently been served with a Summons and related documents (Complaint, Petition, Motion), you should endeavor to seek legal assistance right away. Papers filed in court that start a lawsuit call for responses that involve particular deadlines; skipping those deadlines could compromise your defense, restrict or avoid your recovery. Some issues by statute involve a “pre-suit” period of time that allow you to think about the legal issues and possible resolution before a suit is filed. Similarly, seeking a lawyer as quickly as possible is advised.

5. QUESTION: Precisely what is mediation?

ANSWER: Mediation is a process whereby the parties to the matter present at an agreed site with their counsel (if retained) and a selected mediator to try and solve all or a number of the problems involved. Mediators are to be unrelated to all parties and the litigation at issue, are to remain impartial amongst the parties and their lawyer, and continue maintaining the confidential structure of the conference to recommend settlement and resolution. Usually the parties share the charge of the mediation evenly but other arrangements may be made if all parties are in agreement ahead of the conference. Mediation is typically required in every case filed in court and just before a trial is held.

6. QUESTION: What type of lawyer do I need?

ANSWER: Again, like other industries, attorneys may specialize in a certain or more than one area. Similarly, law offices may specialize, provide general legal needs or offer you services in a few specific areas of law. Trial attorneys deal with cases involving lawsuits; family law attorneys handle divorce, child custody/visitation, child support, alimony and related matters; general practitioners handle most matters. Some areas of law are very specialized, like bankruptcy or taxation; others are delineated by statute, as in worker’s compensation. Any attorney can discuss your particular issue, determine if he/she is prepared to take care of such matters or advise you of the necessity to speak with another in a specialized area.

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