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Do You Need A Divorce Lawyer?

Assuming you have not already, chances are that sometime in your lifetime you will want to retain an attorney. Thanks to my discussion with Tampa Lawyer Christina Mesa, listed here is a selection of answers to popular and fundamental questions.

1. QUESTION: How do I know if I need a legal professional?
ANSWER: If you have already been served with a Summons and similar documents (Complaint, Petition, Motion), you should endeavor to seek out legal guidance without delay. Papers filed in court that begin a lawsuit necessitate 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" period that allow you to consider the legal issues and potential resolution before a suit is filed. Similarly, seeking legal counsel immediately is advised.

2. QUESTION: Do I need to hire an attorney at law in the county where the issue occurs?
ANSWER: No. Many lawyers or attorneys practice in other counties and other states, based on their licensure for the latter. Having knowledge in the county wherein the matter will be litigated is essential as that lawyer will have a comfort level with the local courthouse personnel, attorneys (likely opposing lawyer) and judges. One consideration in retaining a lawyer outside the area wherein 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 conducted. Discuss that question with each lawyer consulted.

3. QUESTION: Exactly what is mediation?
ANSWER: Mediation is a process whereby the parties to the matter present at an agreed place with their counsel (if retained) and a chosen mediator to try and solve all or some of the concerns involved. Mediators need to be unrelated to all parties and the litigation at issue, are to remain impartial in between the parties and their lawyer, and continue maintaining the confidential nature of the conference to encourage settlement and resolution. Typically the parties share the fee of the mediation equally but other arrangements can 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 before a trial is held.

4. QUESTION: What kind of attorney at law do I need?
ANSWER: Again, like other industries, attorneys may specialize in a specific or more than one area. Similarly, law offices may specialize, provide general legal needs or offer 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 specialized, like bankruptcy or taxation; others are delineated by statute, like worker's compensation. Any lawyer should be able to talk about your specific issue, determine if he/she is prepared to take care of such matters or advise you of the necessity to consult with another in a specialised area.

5. QUESTION: How can I be sure my attorney is resolving my issues?
ANSWER: Every good lawyer keeps track of his time (fees) and expenditures (costs). Your retainer arrangement should include a confirmation of how the attorney bills his clients - once a month, quarterly, etc. You may also keep track of your case in some jurisidictions that provide on-line accessibility to case dockets. If the county has that set up, you're wise to routinely review the docket and see what events have taken place by your counsel and the other party/counsel. It's also advisable to feel comfortable getting in contact with your lawyer at intervals to ascertain the status of the matter, understanding you will likely be billed for these interactions.

6. QUESTION: How do I select an attorney?
ANSWER: Legal subjects are as vast as those in other industries, such as medicine, construction, finance, etc. and usually are just as complicated. To safeguard your legal rights and remedies, the best practice would be to research your area of need and research what lawyers are around to help you. A recommendation from somebody you know and respect can bring a personal element to the decision to hire an law firm but really should not be the sole reason counsel is selected. Research the lawyer's background of education, practical experience and area(s) of practice. Asking a lot of questions should be encouraged in this process. Self-help could be strengthening but can also restrict or negate your recovery. Hiring a lawyer should be considered with the same level of thought and consideration as that given to the selection of a doctor, accountant, financial expert or therapist.

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