Why Almost Everything You've Learned About Divorce Lawyers Is Wrong And What You Should Know

Assuming you have not by now, probably sometime in your life you'll have to hire an attorney. With the help of my interview with Tampa Lawyer Christina Mesa, here's a selection of responses to typical as well as worthwhile questions.

1. QUESTION: How am I able to make certain my attorney is working on my issues?
ANSWER: Every good attorney accounts for his time (fees) and expenditures (costs). Your retainer arrangement should include a confirmation 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 available, you're wise to routinely review the docket and see what changes have transpired by your attorney and the other party/counsel. It's also advisable to feel at ease getting in contact with your lawyer at intervals to learn the status of the matter, knowing you will likely be billed for these communications.

2. QUESTION: Do I have to hire an attorney in the county where the problem occurs?
ANSWER: No. Many lawyers or attorneys practice in other counties and other states, depending on their licensure for the latter. Having knowledge in the county in which the matter is being litigated is crucial as that attorney will have a comfort level with the county courthouse personnel, attorneys (likely opposing counsel) and judges. One matter in retaining legal counsel outside the area in which the matter occurs is cost of journey time. Some lawyers do not charge for travel, others give you a reduced rate or preserve a billable rate for all work performed. Talk about that question with each lawyer consulted.

3. QUESTION: How do I determine if I require a lawyer?
ANSWER: If you have recently been served with a Summons and associated documents (Complaint, Petition, Motion), you should really endeavor to seek legal guidance right away. Papers filed in court that commence a lawsuit require responses that involve particular deadlines; missing those deadlines could compromise your defense, restrict or avoid your recovery. Some matters by statute involve a "pre-suit" time period that enable you to think about the legal issues and probable resolution before a suit is filed. Similarly, seeking legal counsel as soon as possible is recommended.

4. QUESTION: What exactly is mediation?
ANSWER: Mediation is a process whereby the parties to the case present at an agreed location with their counsel (if retained) and a chosen mediator to try and resolve all or a number of the issues involved. Mediators are to be unrelated to all participants and the litigation at issue, are to stay impartial in between the parties and their counsel, and continue maintaining the confidential nature of the conference to recommend settlement and resolution. Usually the parties share the fee of the mediation evenly but other arrangements might be made if all parties are in agreement ahead of the conference. Mediation is generally required in just about every case filed in court and just before a trial is held.

5. QUESTION: What kind of attorney do I need?
ANSWER: Again, like other sectors, attorneys may specialise in a specific or more than one area. Similarly, law firms may specialize, offer general legal needs or provide services in a few unique areas of law. Trial attorneys handle cases involving lawsuits; family law attorneys handle divorce, child custody/visitation, child support, alimony and related matters; general practitioners handle most matters. Some areas of law are very technical, like bankruptcy or taxation; some are delineated by statute, like worker's compensation. Any lawyer should be able to go over your particular issue, determine if he or she is qualified to handle such matters or advise you of the necessity to speak with another in a specialised area.

6. QUESTION: Precisely how do I select an attorney?
ANSWER: Legal topics are as vast as those in other sectors, such as medicine, construction, finance, etc. and may be just as complex. To safeguard your legal rights and remedies, the very best practice would be to research your area of need and research what lawyers are accessible to work with you. A recommendation from somebody you know and admire can add a personal element to the decision to hire an lawyer but really should not be the only reason counsel is selected. Research the lawyer's background of education, experience and area(s) of practice. Asking questions should be urged in this process. Self-help could be strengthening but may also limit or negate your recovery. Hiring a law firm should be considered with the same level of thought and consideration as that directed at the choice of a physician, accountant, financial advisor or therapist.

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