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hiring an effective attorney

The Secret to Hiring an Effective Attorney:  Emotional Intelligence

hiring an effective attorney

 

My parents divorced right after I was born and I was raised by my mother. She was a social worker for the New York State Division for Youth. She worked there for decades and I can remember going into her government office, in Syracuse, New York, and raiding the office’s supply closet. Money was always tight.

Being raised by a single mother was challenging, for sure, but I was very fortunate that my mother was emotionally intelligent. In fact, had I been raised by my father I suspect my life would have been far less purpose-driven and more focused on self-centered endeavors. I am a very lucky man in that respect.

I am now a divorce and family attorney with a family of my own. I speak with people every day about divorce, custody modifications, relocation, decision-making and everything else one would expect of someone managing a large family law firm. I watch competitors everyday market to their “target audience.”

Marketing Based on Fear:

We have a lot of “Men’s Rights Firms” here in our state, and they get many clients calling every day. We have law firms locally that market “aggressive representation” (admittedly I did as well in the beginning) and messaging similar to “We Win Family Law cases.”  Nobody wins these cases. I see no value in advertising expertise or specialty related to the sex of a client. It’s marketing based on fear, and it’s natural for parents to be fearful as they contemplate major life changes.

I disagree with the idea that you need to have any plan in place other than being very deliberate and thoughtful about choosing an attorney.

He cheated on you.

He lied to you.

He isn’t a good dad.

He used marital money to buy his mid-life-crisis answer.

If someone told you, when you are raw and emotional, to get aggressive and hire Lawyer X to fight for you, I suspect you would think that is a good idea. I suspect I would feel the same way. But that is really, really bad advice.

The Secret to Hiring an Effective Attorney:  Emotional Intelligence

Fighting and being aggressive has its place in every family law case, but how you fight and how you are aggressive is the key. Understand that you are extracting yourself from a dysfunctional relationship. There is pain, fear, anger and every other emotion open and available for you to experience.The feeling you do not want is regret with your choice in representation.

I strongly suggest that you seek representation that does not mirror you, your emotions, or your anger…at least at the outset. Do not hire an attorney who gets you motivated to destroy him. If your case warrants a parenting time restriction, or a protection order, a private investigator or a Child and Family Investigator then the right attorney will guide you only after he or she understands your case, your relationship with your husband and children, and your goals.

Choose an emotionally intelligent lawyer. 

What exactly is that?

Emotionally intelligent people are…aware. That’s all. But that’s huge! An emotionally intelligent attorney uses all her tools in her toolbox. She doesn’t react to opposing counsel who thinks being a jerk is in the job description.

An emotionally intelligent attorney uses data, strategy and thought in accordance with a communicated plan of action geared towards a successful outcome. They think about their actions and advice, understanding the raw nature of the situation, and they don’t exploit the client’s fears. Emotionally intelligent attorneys can inspire and protect clients, oftentimes, from themselves.

Think about it. Your husband cheated on you with someone you know. He is clearly a piece of trash and shouldn’t have parenting time because he can’t be trusted. Right? Or, even more cutting, he introduces your children to her as he and your babies “accidentally” run into her while grocery shopping. You want it to stop. You want him to pay dearly. That mindset will have many lawyers licking their chops to follow your strategy and blow it all up…and bill you for it all.

Emotional intelligence is not a weakness. It is the epitome of strength and most lawyers don’t have it. Emotional intelligence is seeing the case from both the 30,000-foot view, anticipating behaviors based on the data, and having the legal and factual knowledge to make strategic decisions that benefit the client in the short term and long term.

Emotional intelligence is not ripping off scathing emails to opposing counsel, at your behest, because you are hurt. Emotional intelligence is using your narcissist husband’s abusive texts to your advantage by waiting until he portrays himself the way he sees himself and opposite to what the facts, collateral witnesses and written or recorded communications conclusively portray him to be.

If your “aggressive lawyer” did what you asked, or on her own, acted, by emailing opposing counsel and threatened your husband you will feel better…and you likely lost the benefit of all the data because you allowed the lawyer to tip off your husband that he has bad facts to overcome.

Emotionally intelligent lawyers see the forest through the trees and effectively save you from your emotions, while at the same time advancing your effectively strategized case towards a successful resolution. Sophisticated, emotionally intelligent representation can be lulling your husband to sleep with false confidence, only to trap him in his lies at mediation or trial.

That is effective, and even aggressive, representation and is done at the highest level by very few attorneys.

There is nothing worse than lining up a narcissist with his own words/actions/behaviors only to see this leverage disappear because a lawyer was lazy, greedy or both.

The post The Secret to Hiring an Effective Attorney:  Emotional Intelligence appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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custody dispute

Why I Used a Paralegal Instead Of an Attorney During a Custody Dispute

custody dispute

 

When I moved to a new state and my ex showed up after 3 years of not seeing our children with a lawyer and a petition for custody of our younger son, I was lost. I was also broke, with no money to hire an attorney.

Being unfamiliar with the laws and procedures of my new state, I started doing my homework. I also began to worry because a custody case was far more legally treacherous than anything I’d done on my own before. I knew I needed help making sure I was filing the appropriate paperwork with the appropriate court.

Why I Used a Paralegal Instead Of an Attorney During a Custody Dispute

I found out, via my own personal experience, that a paralegal can be a valuable asset if you are not using an attorney. If you’re going through a divorce, but don’t want to break the bank, you might be asking yourself, can I use a paralegal instead of a divorce attorney? In most states, it is legal to use the services of a certified paralegal to help with the paperwork generated by the divorce process.

In some states independent paralegals have been given legal right to serve as “legal document preparers,” so if you have a motion to file or a petition to draw up, you are within your legal right to hire a paralegal.

Things Paralegals can do

Paralegals can legally prepare divorce forms for you, and they can tell you where those forms need to be filed. Paralegals can also tell you how to serve divorce forms to your spouse, and help you fill out state-specific forms for modifying child support or alimony.

Things Paralegals can’t do

Paralegals can’t give you legal advice. They also can’t go to court and advocate for you the same way a divorce attorney will. If you are experiencing a fairly simple, uncontested divorce, you can save money by using a paralegal instead of a divorce attorney.

If your divorce is highly conflicted, with issues such as a custody battle or large assets to split, a paralegal is not something you want to consider. Their knowledge of court procedure and state divorce laws are limited, which makes them less valuable in a high conflict situation.

How to Find a Paralegal

As with a divorce attorney, you should not contract with a paralegal without first doing research into their background. Check with your Better Business Bureau for any complaints, and ask prospective paralegals about their experience and education. Making sure your paralegal is qualified is imperative when using one in place of a divorce attorney.

Sometimes Paralegals Know More

If your divorce is highly conflicted with issues such as a custody battle or large assets to split a paralegal is not something you want to consider. Their knowledge of court procedure and state divorce laws are limited which makes them less valuable in a high conflict situation.

As with a divorce attorney, you should not contract with a paralegal without first doing research into his/her background. Check with your Better Business Bureau for any complaints. Ask about their experience and education. Experience and qualifications are imperative when choosing a paralegal!

In my case, the paralegal I found looked over the case paperwork, and help me get everything done appropriately for a small fee. Here is the kicker: My paperwork was in good order, and my ex’s attorney had filed the petition for custody with the wrong court.

Thanks to the paralegal, we slowed down the process a bit, and when I did show up in court, all of my documents were properly filed and in order. Help can come from unexpected places. If you aren’t able to hire an attorney but need to use the court to protect your legal rights, a paralegal can guide you through the process and alleviate a lot of stress and anxiety.

The post Why I Used a Paralegal Instead Of an Attorney During a Custody Dispute appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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4 Tips For Hiring an Attorney During Divorce Mediation

4 Tips For Hiring an Attorney During Divorce Mediation

Hiring an attorney early on in the mediation process can be beneficial not only for educational purposes but also to help you make smart decisions during the mediation process.

The post 4 Tips For Hiring an Attorney During Divorce Mediation appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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Learning How to be a Better Attorney by Asking Questions

Learning How to be a Better Attorney by Asking Questions

It seems that clients’ chief complaints are a lack of prompt replies from their lawyers, and a lack of substantive, proactive communication.  Let’s take each of these subjects in turn. 

The post Learning How to be a Better Attorney by Asking Questions appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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4 Tips for Getting the Most from Your Attorney During Mediation

4 Tips for Getting the Most from Your Attorney During Mediation

Consulting with an attorney can be a valuable component of an effective divorce mediation process. This article describes how to maximize the benefit and minimize the cost of attorney support during mediation.

The post 4 Tips for Getting the Most from Your Attorney During Mediation appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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Divorce: What Your Divorce Attorney May Not Tell You

Divorce: What Your Divorce Attorney May Not Tell You

When you’re in Court be prepared for something unexpected and get comfortable being uncomfortable.

The post Divorce: What Your Divorce Attorney May Not Tell You appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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What Should You Say to Your Divorce Attorney During Your First Meeting?

What Should You Say to Your Divorce Attorney During Your First Meeting?

What should you do and say to your divorce attorney when you first meet? It sounds like a simple question, but meeting with a complete stranger to discuss the shortcomings of your marriage is often easier said than done.

The post What Should You Say to Your Divorce Attorney During Your First Meeting? appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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5 Reasons You Should Have an Attorney Review Your “Do it Yourself Divorce”

5 Reasons You Should Have an Attorney Review Your “Do it Yourself Divorce”

Even if you and your spouse have the best intentions and full financial disclosure, there are several reasons why your self-prepared marital settlement agreement should be reviewed by your own attorney before you sign it.

The post 5 Reasons You Should Have an Attorney Review Your “Do it Yourself Divorce” appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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Personal, Property & Financial Information Your Divorce Attorney Will Need

Personal, Property & Financial Information Your Divorce Attorney Will Need

Once you’ve made your decision to divorce, your new attorney will need information from you in order to get the ball rolling and the divorce process started.

The post Personal, Property & Financial Information Your Divorce Attorney Will Need appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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information your divorce attorney will need

Personal, Property, and Financial Information Your Divorce Attorney Will Need

information your divorce attorney will need

 

A lot goes into choosing a divorce attorney. I always suggest three attorneys be interviewed before deciding which to hire. During the interview process, you can learn about the attorney’s experience, their fees and get a feel for whether or not you feel the two of you could have a good working relationship.

Once you’ve made your decision, the new attorney will need information from you in order to get the ball rolling and the divorce process started. Some information is basic, will require no work from you. Other information will require time and energy and it is always best to be prepared. So, before you even start the interview process, why not get ahead of the game by gathering as much information as possible so that when it comes time to answer questions your new divorce attorney has, you will be prepared.

Below is a list of common questions/information your divorce attorney will need.

You will find this list helpful when compiling documents and materials your attorney will expect from you.

Personal Information:

  • Your full name, date of birth and social security number.
  • Contact information such as an address, landline/cell phone number, and email address.
  • Proof of state of residency.
  • Your employer’s name, address, and phone number.
  • Your length of employment and your monthly or annual salary. You should be prepared to show your attorney at least three years in income tax returns.
  • Your spouse’s full name, date of birth and social security number.
  • Contact information for your spouse such as an address, landline/cell phone number, and an email address.
  • Your spouse’s employer information, address, and phone number.
  • Your spouse’s length of employment and salary.
  • If the attorney will be serving your spouse with divorce paperwork they will need to know where you want this to take place. At your spouse’s work or place of residence?
  • The date and place you were married.
  • The name of your spouse’s attorney if he/she has one.
  • The name of a marital therapist you and your spouse visited with times and dates.
  • A list of the marital problems that led to divorce if any involve alcohol or drug abuse, religious differences, infidelity or sexual incompatibility.
  • The full names, dates of birth and social security numbers of any children born during the marriage.
  • Which parent the children now reside with and whether or not a custody dispute will be part of the divorce process.
  • The full names, dates of birth and social security numbers of any children from a previous marriage.
  • If you pay child support, how much you pay. If you receive child support, how much you receive.
  • Whether or not your spouse has children from a previous marriage. If so, how much child support is paid or received.
  • Who provides health insurance for the children born of this marriage?

Property Information:

  • Addresses of property owned jointly or separately.
  • Addresses of any mortgage companies you have accounts with.
  • The estimated fair market value of homes owned.
  • The balance on any mortgages.
  • The amount of monthly payments to a mortgage company.
  • A list of all automobiles, boats, motorcycles, trailers or airplanes owned jointly or separately.
  • The year, make and model of each and who has possession.
  • The name and address of any lender who may hold the title to autos, boats, motorcycles, trailers or airplanes.

Financial Information:

  • A list of all joint and separate bank accounts, savings accounts, C.D.’s, Credit Union accounts, Savings Bonds and Stocks and Mutual Funds.
  • How many debit cards you have for each account and the names on those cards.
  • A list of any credit card accounts you hold jointly or separately. The names on the accounts and the balance due.
  • Information about retirement accounts, 401K’s and other investment type accounts.
  • Disclosure of any life insurance policies, whose life is insured and for how much.
  • A list of names of those who owe you money. How much they owe and the expected payment date.
  • A list of any lawsuits you may be involved in.
  • A list of any livestock, such as cattle or horses that you may own.

The post Personal, Property, and Financial Information Your Divorce Attorney Will Need appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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