Impaired Driving



SecretariosJudiciales.com Guidance to Top Legal Matters.

Site Map

What qualities in a matrimonial attorney are important?

As a prerequisite, the attorney must have a demonstrated level of competence in matrimonial law. The attorney need not handle only matrimonial cases, nor need he be well known in the legal community, but he should have handled a sufficient number of cases to be able to conduct yours efficiently and properly. Resist the temptation to use a friend of the family or your business lawyer who has never handled a matrimonial case. Often such lawyers, however well intentioned, must bail out of the case if and when it becomes too complicated, leaving you in the unenviable position of having to find a new lawyer in the middle.

Next, and equally important, you must feel at ease with the lawyer. Some men feel more comfortable with a female lawyer, others would not consider anyone but an older, male attorney. Some women only want a female lawyer, while others, however feminist they might otherwise be, feel their husband will only listen to a man. However, do not hire a lawyer solely based upon how you think your spouse will react to that lawyer. First, it is the two lawyers--not your spouse and your lawyer (unless your spouse is not going to hire a lawyer)--who will be dealing with each other, so what your spouse thinks of your lawyer will be irrelevant. Furthermore, your level of comfort is more important than your spouse's level of discomfort.

Recognize, too, that hiring a "shark" (a term used for highly aggressive lawyers) in order to impress your spouse is foolish. You are getting divorced. What your spouse thinks--even if you think a certain attorney will scare her into resolving the case--should not play a role in who you select. Rarely do such tactics succeed in any event.

Be sure you can afford the lawyer's fees. Ask about fees at the initial consultation, and if the lawyer refuses to discuss them, do not allow yourself to be put off. You would not buy a dress or suit without first knowing its cost. When you hire a lawyer, you must have that information. (See also retainers and fees.)

Be sure to know how accessable the lawyer will be. Will your case be too small for a well-known lawyer to devote his time to it? Is there going to be another attorney, more junior, handling the matter as well? If there is, ask to meet that lawyer. Having two attorneys work on your case is not necessarily bad. One attorney, usually an associate who bills at a lower rate than the other attorney, can do a lot of the paper work that a case may generate, while the more expensive attorney can handle negotiations and actual trial work. If two or more attorneys will be working on the case, ask how the work is divided and whether you will be billed for both lawyers when the two are working together. Some law firms will automatically bill you for both attorneys, other firms will only bill you for both when the work requires two lawyers, such as at a complicated trial, and still other firms will only bill at the rate of the more expensive attorney working on your case. You can try to negotiate with the lawyer, if you feel the costs will be prohibitive.

What shouldn't I expect from an attorney?

Although by its very nature divorce requires you to divulge information to your lawyer even your spouse does not know, your lawyer is not your "buddy," there to offer solace and hear the latest tidbit. In short, while you and your lawyer may be or become friends, her job is to marshal facts into sound legal arguments, not to provide a constant shoulder to cry on.

Nor should you expect your lawyer to offer psychological advice. Questions concerning the children's welfare or your emotional state should be addressed to the appropriate mental health expert. Once you have information from that expert, you can present it to your attorney and ask that she try to obtain relief from the court, or from negotiations, in accordance with that advice.

Finally, attorneys cannot act as career counselors. For many, divorce means a major change in economic status, and there is a need to begin to take steps to developing a marketable skill. A lawyer can explain how long you can expect to receive support from your spouse, but she can't tell you what field to pursue or how to become more economically independent. Career counselors are available to provide such help.

© Copyright Legal Matters & Law Practice. All rights reserved.
Unauthorized duplication in part or whole strictly prohibited by international copyright law.