Why Have A Divorce Lawyer?

If perhaps you have not already, probably sometime in your own lifetime you will want to seek the services of an attorney. Thanks to my discussion with Tampa Attorney Christina Mesa, here's a variety of responses to typical and important questions.

1. QUESTION: How can I make certain my attorney is working on my issues?
ANSWER: Every good lawyer keeps track of his time (fees) and expenses (costs). Your retainer arrangement should include a statement of how the lawyer bills his clients - month-to-month, quarterly, etc. You may also track your case in some jurisidictions that offer on-line access to case dockets. If the county has that established, you're wise to routinely review the docket and see what activities have occurred by your attorney and the other party/counsel. It's also advisable to feel at ease contacting your attorney at intervals to ascertain the status of the issue, knowing you will likely be billed for these interactions.

2. 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, depending on their licensure for the latter. Having experience in the county wherein the matter is being litigated is important as that attorney will have a comfort level with the community courthouse personnel, attorneys (likely opposing counsel) and judges. One thing to consider in retaining legal counsel outside the area in which the matter takes place is cost of journey time. Some attorneys don't charge for travel, others offer a decreased rate or maintain a billable rate for all work performed. Talk about that question with each attorney consulted.

3. QUESTION: How do I determine if I will need a legal professional?
ANSWER: If you have already been served with a Summons and comparable documents (Complaint, Petition, Motion), you should really endeavor to seek out legal guidance without delay. Documents filed in court that start a lawsuit require responses that involve specific deadlines; skipping those deadlines could compromise your defense, limit or avoid your recovery. Some concerns by statute involve a "pre-suit" time period that allow you to think about the legal issues and potential resolution before a suit is filed. Similarly, seeking legal counsel as quickly as possible is recommended.

4. QUESTION: Exactly what is mediation?
ANSWER: Mediation is a course of action whereby the parties to the issue present at an agreed site with their counsel (if retained) and a decided on mediator to try and resolve all or some of the problems involved. Mediators need to be unrelated to all participants and the litigation at issue, are to stay impartial amongst the parties and their counsel, and continue maintaining the confidential aspect of the conference to recommend settlement and resolution. Usually 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 generally required in every case filed in court and prior to a trial is held.

5. QUESTION: What kind of lawyer do I need?
ANSWER: Again, like other businesses, attorneys may concentrate in a certain or more than one area. Similarly, law firms may specialize, offer general legal needs or offer services in a few specific areas of law. Trial attorneys deal with cases involving lawsuits; family law attorneys handle divorce cases, child custody/visitation, child support, alimony and related matters; general practitioners handle almost all matters. Some areas of law are extremely specialized, like bankruptcy or taxation; some are delineated by statute, such as worker's compensation. Any lawyer should be able to talk about your particular issue, determine if he or she is qualified to handle such matters or inform you of the necessity to seek advice from another in a specialized area.

6. QUESTION: Just how do I select an attorney?
ANSWER: Legal issues are as vast as those in other industries, such as medicine, construction, finance, etc. and are often just as perplexing. To protect your legal rights and remedies, the very best practice would be to investigate your area of need and research what law firms are around to assist you. A recommendation from someone you know and regard can add a personal element to the plan to hire an law firm but really should not be the singular reason counsel is selected. Look into the attorney's background of training, experience and area(s) of practice. Asking questions should be urged in this process. Self-help can be strengthening but may also reduce or negate your recovery. Hiring a legal professional should be considered with the same level of thought and consideration as that given to the pick of a medical doctor, accountant, financial advisor or therapist.

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