Wednesday, March 20, 2013

How Do People Find Us?

We have made suggestions previously in several posts about how to find and choose an attorney.  After some analysis, I figured out out that these methods seem to be the most common used by clients to find us.

1st Method:  Start with names. Potential clients regularly ask others for recommendations.  They talk with:
  • attorneys, 
  • counselors, 
  • religious advisors/leaders/ministers/rabbis/priests, 
  • relatives, 
  • friends, 
  • neighbors, 
  • physicians, 
  • CPAs, 
  • realtors,
  • and others.  
Basically, they talk to people they trust or ones they think would naturally know the best attorneys.  Or they may just go to someone they know has had some experience in the legal system.
Once potential clients get some recommendations, and before calling for an appointment, they usually will check up on them on line to see if the information there is consistent with what the client has been told.

2nd Method: Research on line.
  • Potential clients will start by searching on line, using Google, Bing, Yahoo,or some other search engine.They may start generally, such as "Fort Worth Divorce Lawyer" (or some other locale).  
  • Once clients get some possibilities, they usually will investigate on line to find out about the attorneys' experience and whether they are a Board Certified Specialist in Family Law.
  • Clients will also usually look at the attorney's web site.  They want to be sure that the attorney communicates well and can speak understandably in plain English.  They also want to see if the attorney answers questions and provides information in his/her web site.  Of course, if there's a blog, that's bonus information!
  • Final step before calling-- check with trusted friends and advisors to get their opinion of the quality of the potential attorney.
As you can see, our experience is that people will generally research on line and ask for recommendations, which is a smart strategy.  It doesn't matter which order the search is conducted.  The main concern is that you check on the attorney and sample his/her written materials before you make the important in-person visit.

Note:  Please tell the attorney who recommended him/her.  Most attorneys are interested in that and like to thank their referral sources.  The sources will be pleased that you trusted their advice as well!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

How Not to Start a Divorce

There are many articles about how to do various things, including getting divorced.  This is a "what not to do" article: 10  things to avoid that will save you a lot of grief when you start a divorce.

1.  Don't destroy records, including emails and other electronic information.  Emails and website postings are becoming more and more important in divorce litigation, and you can't destroy information like that. Helpful or hurtful, you need to not delete information. You will get in trouble with the Judge for that.  Check with your attorney if you think you need to delete things.

2.  Don't hide the kids.  A common concern of judges is whether parents are willing to cooperate with each other and share children.  If one parent runs off with the children, that is normally held against the hiding parent.

3.  Don't clean out all the bank accounts.  Each party needs some money to pay bills and survive.  If either party starts to empty bank accounts, the judge will often take money away from the money grabber, and the judge won't be happy with that person.

4.  Don't blow up and get angry with your spouse or make threats.   That will probably only lead to more conflict.  Anger and threats don't lead to compromise and reasonableness.  Fighting costs more money.

5.  Don't hide assets.  Most of the time, the assets will be found.  If a judge suspects you have hidden assets, he or she has ways to even things out, and you can be punished.  It's not worth the effort in the end.

6.  Don't hire the meanest lawyer in town unless you just want to spend a lot of money and reduce the community estate.  Sure, you can whip up on your spouse and make him or her miserable, but it will end up costing you a lot more money than if you tried to work things out.  Fighting is expensive and your aggression will likely lead to aggression in response, which won't be fun for you.

7.  Don't try to represent yourself.  Like it or not, Family Law is complicated.  If you have no assets, no kids and a fairly short marriage, you might get by without a lawyer.  Otherwise, it will cost you a lot more in the long run when mistakes have to be corrected or when you realize you gave up something, or paid for something, that you didn't have to do.

8.  Don't lie to your lawyer.  You may be embarrassed or you may think you can sneak something by, but lies almost always come back to bite you.  Save yourself some time and money and be honest with your attorney all the way through.

9.  Don't lie to the judge or another court official.  Worse than lying to your attorney is lying to the judge or other court official.  When that is uncovered, you will really be in trouble.  In addition to potential criminal liability, see the last paragraph below.

10.  Don't try to poison the children against the other parent.  Keep them out of the middle.  Judges hate to see kids used as weapons.  More importantly, it's damaging to the children.  For their sake, don't do it.

Very Important!  You may have noticed the refrain above about the judge getting mad or unhappy or not liking something.  That's an important factor because judges have a lot of discretion about how things will be divided or allocated or awarded on both a temporary basis and at final hearing.  That gives the judge a way to even things out, or favor someone who the judge may believe was mistreated by the other spouse.  Think about whether you want the judge to be making rulings if he or she is mad at you!