You Make These Divorce Lawyer Mistakes?

In the instance that you have not already, probably sometime in your own life you'll need to retain a lawyer. Thanks to my discussion with Tampa Attorney Christina Mesa, below is a number of answers to popular as well as imperative questions.

1. QUESTION: Do I have to hire an attorney in the county where the issue occurs?
ANSWER: No. Many lawyers practice in other jurisdictions and other states, based on their licensure for the latter. Having knowledge in the county in which the matter is being litigated is crucial as that lawyer will have a level of comfort with the neighborhood courthouse personnel, attorneys (likely opposing counsel) and judges. One thing to consider in retaining legal counsel outside the area wherein the matter occurs is cost of travel time. Some lawyers do not charge for travel, others offer a decreased rate or preserve a billable rate for all work performed. Clarify that question with each attorney consulted.

2. QUESTION: How may I make certain my lawyer is working on my case?
ANSWER: Every good attorney keeps track of his time (fees) and expenditures (costs). Your retainer arrangement should include a affirmation of how the attorney bills his clients - once a month, quarterly, etc. You may also keep track of your case in some jurisidictions that provide on-line accessibility to case dockets. If the county has that available, you are wise to often review the docket and see what events have taken place by your attorney and the other party/counsel. You should also feel comfortable getting in touch with your attorney at intervals to learn the status of the issue, knowing you'll likely be charged for these communications.

3. QUESTION: Precisely how do I select an attorney at law?
ANSWER: Legal topics are as vast as those in other industries, such as medicine, construction, finance, etc. and are generally just as complex. To safeguard your rights and remedies, the ideal practice would be to study your area of need and research what attorneys are available to work with you. A recommendation from someone you know and regard can add a personal element to the decision to hire an law firm but really should not be the exclusive reason counsel is chosen. Research the lawyer's background of training, expertise and area(s) of practice. Asking basic questions should be encouraged in this process. Self-help can be empowering but can also limit or negate your recovery. Hiring a legal professional should be considered with the same degree of thought and consideration as that given to the choice of a medical professional, accountant, financial expert or therapist.

4. QUESTION: How do I determine if I require a legal professional?
ANSWER: If you have been recently served with a Summons and comparable documents (Complaint, Petition, Motion), you should really endeavor to find legal assistance without delay. Papers filed in court that begin a lawsuit call for responses that involve exact deadlines; skipping those deadlines could compromise your defense, limit or avoid your recovery. Some matters by statute involve a "pre-suit" period that enable you to take into account the legal issues and potential resolution before a lawsuit is filed. Similarly, seeking legal counsel as soon as possible is advised.

5. QUESTION: Exactly what is mediation?
ANSWER: Mediation is a process whereby the parties to the matter present at an agreed area with their counsel (if retained) and a chosen mediator to try and solve all or a number of the concerns involved. Mediators need to be unrelated to all parties and the litigation at issue, are to remain impartial between the parties and their counsel, and continue maintaining the confidential nature of the conference to encourage settlement and resolution. Generally the parties share the charge of the mediation evenly but other arrangements can be made if all parties are in agreement ahead of the conference. Mediation is normally required in every case filed in court and before a trial is held.

6. QUESTION: What kind of lawyer do I need?
ANSWER: Again, like other sectors, lawyers may specialise 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 lawyers handle cases involving lawsuits; family law attorneys handle separation and divorce, child custody/visitation, child support, alimony and associated matters; general practitioners handle most matters. Some areas of law are very technical, like bankruptcy or taxation; others are delineated by statute, as in worker's compensation. Any attorney can go over your specific issue, determine if he or she is qualified to handle such matters or inform you of the necessity to speak with another in a specialized area.

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