HOW DO I SELECT THE RIGHT LAWYER?
The two most important matters of a person's life are their health and their family. Everything else after that is a distant third.
So now you have to deal with your own divorce. Either you or your spouse is contemplating filing for divorce. In Florida, a person cannot withhold giving their spouse a divorce. It takes two people to get married; it only takes one to get divorced. If one party wants a divorce and the other does not, a spouse cannot stop the divorce. (There is a provision in the statutes that permits a court to require the parties to participate in counseling before the divorce can be finalized. It rarely happens and even if the judge does order it, the success is virtually non-existent.)
The reality of the divorce is that it is going to happen. How do you get through it? And getting through it is the goal. Will it be fun or a good time -NO.
Do You Need A Lawyer?
To get through it, one of the considerations is - Do you need a lawyer? And if so, how do you select the right lawyer for you.
Does everyone going through a divorce need a lawyer? No, not everyone needs a lawyer. The decision is based on the issues that need to be decided. The more complicated and complex the issues, the more you need a lawyer.
A lawyer may not be needed if there are no children, the marriage was short in duration and there are few assets and liabilities. However, if there are children, if the marriage is one of length, if there are assets and liabilities to divide, or if there are unusual circumstances - health issues, businesses - it is suggested that a lawyer at least be consulted.
What Are Your Rights?
What is the law on the particular areas that cause you concern? Don't guess! Don't let the Internet be your advisor! Your sister or neighbor went through a divorce and yours sounds just like theirs and this is what their lawyer did, may not apply in your case. Is your fingerprint just like your brother's? Everyone has one but they are all unique. So is your divorce.
Selecting the Right Lawyer for Your Case.
The divorce is going to happen. Now what do you do? Go talk to a lawyer. What do you ask? Don't worry about that. Upon going to the lawyer's office, you should be expected to fill out an information sheet or a history of facts that the lawyer will need to find out about your particular circumstance. Be open and candid with the lawyer. What you say to the lawyer and their staff is confidential. Don't hold back. It may be embarrassing or uncomfortable but let your lawyer know from the beginning. Unlike Christmas, lawyers don't like surprises. Get all the information out so the lawyer knows what is involved. Once that information is provided, a discussion will take place and you should know exactly what you need or want to say.
In this interview with the lawyer, does the lawyer allow you to talk? After you have left the lawyer's office, do you have the feeling that you were able to tell the lawyer everything you wanted? Did the lawyer interrupt you, tell you about his or her victories in previous cases? Is this interview about you or the lawyer? You want to have a comfort level that the lawyer can deal with your case and in order to do so, it will be comforting to hear that similar matters have been dealt with by the lawyer. If the examples go to excess, ask yourself - are the lawyers really listening to me or are they merely hearing words that give them a chance to praise themselves about previous cases.
It is your case. It is your life. Once the case is over, you deal with the result. The judge and lawyers - both yours and your spouse's - move on to other cases. It is easier to deal with matters before a decision or agreement has been reached. It is much more difficult to undo what has already been decided.
Ask the Right Questions
Don't be afraid to ask questions. How does this lawyer and his or her staff communicate with the client? E-mail, telephone, cell phone? Find out what the general time line is for a response. Get an assurance that your concerns and/or questions can be addressed within a day or two. You don't want matters left unresolved in your brain for several days or weeks. Too often I hear that clients call their lawyer and they don't hear from them for days or even weeks before a response is received. That is not acceptable. The lawyer or the staff should get back to you quickly. My staff or I will return calls the same day they are received.
How long has your lawyer been doing domestic or divorce work? Just because they are new does not mean that they don't know what they're doing, but it may impact your case if your case has unique or complicated matters.
How long does your lawyer anticipate the case to take? How much will it cost? Good questions. I am asked those in every initial interview with a new client. Quite frankly those two questions are the most difficult to answer.
Try and visualize this concept. If you go the grocery store in your car, the ride to the store will be relatively smooth. You have four evenly inflated tires. If upon coming out of the store you discover that you now have a flat, will your car not run? No, it will run, however, the ride it provides will not be nearly as smooth on your way home as it was getting to the store. Your divorce case will have four tires - husband, wife, husband's lawyer and wife's lawyer. It just takes one to go flat and the entire process will be more uncomfortable, take longer and be far more expensive.
As you interview and meet with a lawyer to find out your rights and what is in front of you in this upcoming divorce, use your common sense. Does the lawyer answer your questions? Do you understand the answers? If you can't get the point, how is the judge or the other lawyer expected to get it. Does the lawyer's overall explanation of your case make sense to you? If it does not - be leery. There are a lot of nuances to the law but a lot of it is based on common sense. If your common sense is offended, your common sense is telling you this is not the lawyer for you. If you generally understand what is being explained to you and the cost is something you can deal with, then that lawyer is one to consider to represent you in your divorce.
Select a lawyer you have a level of comfort with, one that you can talk to, one that understands your case and one that you can afford.
If you live in Central Florida, and you have a family legal issue, contact the office of experienced family law attorney Hal Roen, P.A., today. Let us put our years of family law experience to work for you.
Hal Roen, P.A.
159 Lookout Place Suite 202
Maitland, Florida 32751