The series of articles describes the legal authorities, strategy and procedural points we used to successfully defend a military retiree, who was a veteran of the Vietnam War. His ex-wife was trying to get half of his military retired pay and spousal support here in Virginia, despite having separated him 6 years earlier in Hawaii. While we are constantly pleased to achieve an effective outcome for our customers, we felt sorry for the ex-wife, who had actually gotten poor legal advice from hr attorney in the initial divorce action in Hawaii, recommendations that result in bad decisions which the Virginia Court found to bind her permanently. In ruling for us in the event, the judge told the ex-wife that instead of suing her ex-husband, show should pursue the attorney in Hawaii who represented her in the divorce.
With the changes in family law over the last thirty years, consisting of the adoption of equitable distribution in place of the old common-law guidelines, the adoption of laws securing military spouses, and the adoption of assistance guidelines and numerous local rules promoted within the numerous circuits, the location of separation and divorce has become much too complicated and specialized for someone who does sporadically manage these types of cases. It distresses us when clients pertain to us with improperly prepared separation agreements, and/or decrees which other inexperienced attorneys have handled. Just as it is much better to win at trial than to have a terrific appeal concern, it is much better to have the right lawyer, one who will get it right the very first time, than to need to pay someone to fix issues stemming from mistakes made in the first place. In some cases the mistakes are very costly and can not be fixed as shown in the series of posts I wrote for The Family Law News, a peer evaluation publication of the Virginia State Bar, Area of Family Law, entitled “Costly Errors in Multi-State Military Divorce; Or a Military Better half’s Tale of Woe,” which are released in the Fall 2007 and Spring 2008 concerns of the publication.
How do you go about finding a good divorce lawyer? Here are a few recommendations:
Recommendation # 1-Ask an Attorney
If you understand a lawyer, ask him/her for a recommendation to a good divorce lawyer. She or he will most likely know somebody or several someones who dedicate a considerable portion of the practice of law to separation and divorce and associated issues. I have been handling separation and divorce for 30 years and have an excellent reputation among the local legal community. Any divorce attorney worth his/her salt ought to have developed a credibility among other legal representatives. Lawyers usually understand who is good for a particular kind of case; they certainly know who they would see, if they were facing separation and divorce.
Idea # 2-Yellow Pages/Internet
While not an excellent source of info, the Telephone directory and internet can be a start source of attorney names. Attorneys who do not mention separation, divorce, military divorce, and related locations like custody and support or residential or commercial property department, are not seeking cases in those locations and certainly don’t dedicate a considerable part of the practice to those areas. Be leery of ads that include a shopping list of everything under the sun. Remember the old stating, “a jack of all trades and master of none”? Would not you rather have someone who puts in the time to focus at least a significant quantity of time to family law, than somebody who possibly commits 3% of his/her practice to household law concerns? Keep in mind not everyone markets in the Yellow Pages or haw a site or web existence. For example, there are more telephone listings than there are lawyer advertisements in the Yellow Pages.
SUGGESTION # 3-VIRGINIA LAWYER RECOMMENDATION SERVICE
The Virginia Legal Representative Recommendation Service is run by the Virginia State Bar. Lawyers should ask to get on the list and needs to consent to a fixed cost for an initial consultation. A lawyer can be noted under any classification he/she asks for. The names are on a turning list and given to consumers who get in touch with the service. Again, not all lawyers are noted. We are not listed with the referral service. This resource can supply the name of a lawyer who is seeking family law cases. This does not mean that the attorney is an expert in these kinds of cases or that he/she is experienced. All it indicates is that she or he is looking for divorce cases. Make certain to take the questions I discuss here to the lawyer interview.
Idea # 4-Talk to More Than One Attorney
In fact, interview several attorneys. Ask each lawyer who else deals with separation and divorce in the location. If they will not provide you names, leave the office, when you see names showing up on numerous lists of recommendations, the chances are most likely excellent that the lawyer is doing these cases regularly.
Idea # 5 – Use a List
D. Regard in the legal community. What are other legal representatives saying about this attorney? Has the legal representative lectured or taught? Has he/she taught other attorneys?
H. Relationship problems.
Litigating about household law unless you have to resembles utilizing a sledge hammer on a flea problem; you may eliminate a few fleas, however you wreak a lot of damage to the structure of the house, too. When people settle their own cases outside of court, they can be a lot more creative than the court would remain in fashioning a solution that is fair to both parties. Often, contract is simply not possible. When that holds true, you want a skilled able divorce lawyer who can promote for your position in court and has a tested performance history of success.
G. Does the lawyer limitation the variety of cases he/she undertakes? We don’t take every case that contacts or walks through the door. We restrict the variety of cases that we undertake to manage at a provided time so that we a concentrate on doing the best job for those clients.
A. Experience. The longer you have been practicing a particular location of the law, the more you understand. There is an old saying that says a good legal representative knows the law and a great lawyer knows the judge! What is the distinction in between an excellent attorney and a fantastic lawyer? Experience.
E. Publications. Has he/she composed anything that has been accepted for publication in legal journals? This is another sign of regard for the attorney and for his/her skills and experience. Has he/she composed or published anything created to educate the general public as to their rights responsibilities and obligations under the law?
B. Experience Attempting Cases. Has he/she achieved any trial successes for his/her customers? Can the legal representative indicate case results or customer testimonial reflecting his/her capabilities?
C. Are they ready to settle when appropriate to do so? Trial attorneys often suffer from an employed weapon mentality. They like the excitement of attempting cases and might not consider other options, such as mediation or arbitration to accomplish a resolution. A lot of excellent divorce lawyers do not adopt this method, but see trial as a last hope, when other options have stopped working to precipitate a reasonable resolution of the concerns. Unlike other locations of the law, family law frequently entails ongoing relationships and as a result needs a various viewpoint. I recently read a short article by an injury attorney, who was writing on how to select an injury attorney. He stated not to select a lawyer who settles a great deal of cases. When it concerns separation and divorce, I believe it is important to attempt to reach an agreement, if you can.
I have outlined factors that you ought to think about when selecting a divorce lawyer.
F. Affiliations and memberships. What expert associations does the attorney have? Is he/she a family member Law Section of the Virginia State Bar Association? A member of the Virginia Trial Lawyers? A fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyer?
1. How was the telephone addressed when you required a consultation?
2. How were you greeted when you entered the office? Were you provided beverages?
3. Did the attorney and staff listen to you? Are you sure? Could you tell they were listening?
4. Were you disrupted throughout your time with the attorney?
5. Does the attorney use composed agreements setting out the specifications of the representation and the monetary arrangements?
6. Among the most essential aspects of picking a lawyer is the relationship aspect: you require to be able to work successfully and easily with your attorney. The relationship needs intimacy and trust. Do you feel comfy with the attorney?
7. Were you introduced to personnel?
8. The length of time does the lawyer retain files on closed cases? What happens to the closed file? How is it disposed of? What steps does the attorney take to safeguard your confidential information?
J. Cost. Unlike personal injury practice, the best divorce lawyers do not offer “free” consultations. You will notice that cost is last on the list. In our experience, the best divorce lawyers are generally not the cheapest. In the long run, what is it worth to you to retain or acquire your fair share of the assets that have been accumulated over the course of your married life? What is it worth to you to insure that you retain your fair share of time with your children? Some things are worth fighting for and worth the price that you have to pay.
If your attorney does not devote a significant portion of his/her practice to family law issues, has never tried a contested divorce, has never tried a contested custody case or who has never tried an equitable distribution case, or drafted a qualified domestic relations order dividing a pension, or who has no experience in military divorce and has never drafted a military retired pay order, you may want to choose another lawyer for your separation and divorce.
I. Why does he/she practice divorce law? Friends and colleagues think I’m crazy to devote so much time to separation and divorce law. They may be right, I just may be a little crazy.
Like the song says, “it just may be a lunatic you’re looking for.” When interviewing a potential divorce lawyer be sure to ask him/her why they choose to practice family law. Does the lawyer have a life experience that allows him/her to advocate for divorce clients with genuine passion? Is that passion something that is reflected in client testimonials?