What You Don't Know About Divorce Lawyers Could Be Costing More Than You Think

In the case you haven't by now, chances are that sometime in a lifetime you will have to retain legal counsel. Thanks to my interview with Tampa Lawyer Christina Mesa, this is a list of answers to basic along with worthwhile questions.

1. QUESTION: How do I know if I need a lawyer?
ANSWER: If you have been served with a Summons and comparable documents (Complaint, Petition, Motion), you should endeavor to find legal advice right away. Papers filed in court that begin a lawsuit call for responses that involve specific deadlines; missing those deadlines could compromise your defense, restrict or avoid your recovery. Some matters by statute involve a "pre-suit" period that enable you to consider the legal issues and probable resolution before a suit is filed. Similarly, seeking a lawyer immediately is advised.

2. QUESTION: Do I need to hire an attorney at law in the county where the problem occurs?
ANSWER: No. Many attorneys practice in other counties and other states, depending on their licensure for the latter. Having experience in the county wherein the matter will be litigated is crucial as that lawyer will have a comfort level with the neighborhood courthouse personnel, attorneys (likely opposing counsel) and judges. One thing to consider in retaining legal counsel away from area wherein the matter takes place is cost of travel time. Some lawyers do not charge for travel, others give you a lowered rate or preserve a billable rate for all work carried out. Discuss that question with each lawyer consulted.

3. QUESTION: Precisely what is mediation?
ANSWER: Mediation is a course of action whereby the parties to the matter present at an agreed location with their counsel (if retained) and a selected mediator to try and resolve all or a number of the issues involved. Mediators need to be unrelated to all participants and the litigation at issue, are to remain impartial between the parties and their lawyer, and maintain the confidential aspect of the conference to recommend settlement and resolution. Generally the parties share the fee 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 just about every case filed in court and just before a trial is held.

4. QUESTION: What kind of law firm do I need?
ANSWER: Again, like other businesses, attorneys may specialise in a certain or more than one area. Similarly, law offices may specialize, offer general legal needs or offer services in a few specific areas of law. Trial lawyers handle cases involving lawsuits; family law lawyers handle divorce, child custody/visitation, child support, alimony and associated matters; general practitioners handle nearly all 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 talk about your specific issue, determine if he/she is prepared to handle such matters or advise you of the necessity to seek advice from another in a specialized area.

5. QUESTION: How can I be certain my attorney is resolving my issues?
ANSWER: Every good attorney keeps track of his time (fees) and expenses (costs). Your retainer arrangement should include a affirmation of how the lawyer bills his clients - once a month, quarterly, etc. You may also keep track of your case in some jurisidictions that offer on-line accessibility to case dockets. If the county has that established, you are wise to routinely review the docket and see what activities have taken place by your lawyer and the other party/counsel. It's also advisable to feel at ease getting in contact with your attorney at intervals to determine the status of the issue, understanding you'll likely be billed for these communications.

6. QUESTION: How do I select an attorney or lawyer?
ANSWER: Legal troubles are as vast as those in other sectors, such as medicine, construction, finance, etc. and are generally just as complex. To protect your rights and remedies, the very best practice would be to study your area of need and research what law firms are available to assist you. A referral from somebody you know and respect can add a personal element to the consideration to hire an lawyer but shouldn't be the exclusive reason counsel is chosen. Research the lawyer's background of schooling, expertise and area(s) of practice. Asking important questions should be urged in this process. Self-help could be empowering but may also limit or negate your recovery. Hiring a lawyer should be contemplated with the exact same degree of thought and consideration as that directed at the pick of a physician, accountant, financial expert or therapist.

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