Do You Need A Divorce Lawyer?


In the case you have not before now, chances are that sometime in your own lifetime you'll need to retain the services of legal counsel. Thanks to my consultation with Tampa Attorney Christina Mesa, what follows is a group of answers to basic and important questions.

1. QUESTION: How may I make sure my attorney is resolving my issues?
ANSWER: Every good attorney accounts for 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 track your case in some jurisidictions that offer on-line access to case dockets. If the county has that established, you're wise to periodically review the docket and see what events have taken place by your attorney and the other party/counsel. Also feel comfortable getting in touch with your attorney at intervals to ascertain the status of the issue, knowing you will likely be charged for these interactions.

2. QUESTION: Do I want to hire an attorney at law in the county where the problem occurs?
ANSWER: No. Many lawyers or attorneys practice in other jurisdictions and other states, depending on their licensure for the latter. Having experience in the county in which the matter will be litigated is crucial as that attorney will have a comfort level with the county courthouse personnel, lawyers (likely opposing lawyer) and judges. One consideration in hiring legal counsel away from area in which the matter takes place is cost of journey time. Some lawyers do not charge for travel, others give you a decreased rate or maintain a billable rate for all work performed. Clarify that question with each attorney consulted.

3. QUESTION: How do I know if I need a legal professional?
ANSWER: If you have been served with a Summons and similar documents (Complaint, Petition, Motion), you should really endeavor to look for legal advice immediately. Documents filed in court that begin a lawsuit require responses that involve particular deadlines; missing out on those deadlines could damage your defense, limit or avoid your recovery. Some matters by statute involve a "pre-suit" period of time that allow you to consider the legal issues and possible resolution before a suit is filed. Similarly, seeking legal counsel as quickly as possible is advised.

4. QUESTION: What exactly is mediation?
ANSWER: Mediation is a course of action whereby the parties to the issue present at an agreed place with their counsel (if retained) and a chosen mediator to try and resolve all or some of the concerns involved. Mediators are to be unrelated to all parties and the litigation at issue, are to stay impartial amongst the parties and their lawyer, and continue maintaining the confidential structure of the conference to recommend settlement and resolution. Typically the parties share the cost of the mediation evenly but other arrangements may be made if all parties are in agreement in advance of the conference. Mediation is generally required in just about every case filed in court and prior to a trial is held.

5. QUESTION: What type of legal professional do I need?
ANSWER: Again, like other sectors, attorneys may specialise in a specific or more than one area. Similarly, law firms may specialize, provide general legal needs or offer you services in a few precise areas of law. Trial attorneys handle cases involving lawsuits; family law attorneys handle divorce cases, child custody/visitation, child support, alimony and related matters; general practitioners handle most matters. Some areas of law are extremely specialized, like bankruptcy or taxation; some are delineated by statute, such as worker's compensation. Any attorney should be able to talk about your specific issue, determine if he/she is prepared to take care of such matters or inform you of the need to seek advice from another in a specialised area.

6. QUESTION: Exactly how do I select an attorney at law?
ANSWER: Legal problems are as vast as those in other industries, such as medicine, construction, finance, etc. and may be just as perplexing. To safeguard your legal rights and remedies, the ideal practice would be to study your area of need and research what legal professionals are accessible to help you. A recommendation from somebody you know and regard can bring a personal element to the consideration to hire an lawyer but really should not be the sole reason counsel is selected. Research the lawyer's background of training, practical experience and area(s) of practice. Asking a lot of questions should be encouraged in this process. Self-help could be empowering but may also restrict or negate your recovery. Hiring a legal professional should be contemplated with the exact same degree of thought and consideration as that given to the selection of a medical professional, accountant, financial specialist or therapist.

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