Decades of Family Law Practice
If you’re thinking about getting a Divorce or Legal Separation, there are a number of things to take into consideration
Get Professional Legal Advice:
The advice you receive from friends, co-workers, and family members is well meaning, but not necessarily accurate for your particular set of circumstances. Each divorce case is unique. What would apply in one divorce case may or may not apply in your divorce case. Get advice from an experienced family law attorney regarding your particular situation. Whether you are seeking a divorce, a legal separation, child custody, or child support, it is important that you receive proper legal advice before making any major decision.
Gather Information Needed for your Case:
If financial issues are involved, you will need to obtain copies of bank statements, recent pay-stubs, and three years’ worth of tax returns. If a business is involved, you will need to obtain copies of bank statements and Profit and Loss statements for the business.
History of the Relationship:
Prepare a brief summary of your relationship with the other party and the events that led up to your decision to file for divorce. Your residence addresses for the past five years, the date of purchase of any major assets, employment histories, and the dates of any major milestones in your relationship will be helpful in preparing your case. Furthermore, it is important that you keep a journal of the time that each party spends with any minor children and details of any problems with the other party. Finally, keep a journal of any financial transactions, any payments received by you, and any payments made by you on any family debt.
Avoid Confrontations with the Other Party:
Hopefully, your matter can be resolved without resorting to the Court. However, keep in mind that if this matter goes to Court, anything you do or say can be used against you in Court. If you are not sure of how to handle the sensitive communications with the other party, speak to your attorney.
Protect Your Children:
Divorce, child custody, child visitation, and child support matters are difficult enough for the parents. It is doubly difficult on your children. Do your very best to avoid saying anything negative about the other party to, or in front of your minor children. Believe me, the more you can isolate your children from your conflict with the other party, the better off your children will be.
Maintain the Status Quo:
Do not remove the other party from any life insurance policies, deeds, or joint bank accounts without first consulting with your attorney. You may open up a bank account in your name only.
How to Find the Right Attorney for You
Should You Hire an Attorney:
Hiring an attorney can be expensive. There is often a great temptation to try to minimize cost by trying to handle a divorce on your won. However, keep in mind that the outcome of the divorce is going to affect you and your children for the rest of your lives. Unfortunately, the process of getting a divorce has become more and more complex over the years. The issues of child custody, child visitation, child support, spousal support, division of real property, division of pension benefits, claims for separate property, and the division of community property are all complex issues that require specialized knowledge to properly deal with them. Before you make the decision to try to deal with them on your own, at the very least, speak to an experienced divorce/family law attorney so you can make an informed decision as to whether or not you want to try to go alone.
Finding a Divorce/Family Law Attorney:
Most people looking into hiring a divorce/family law attorney have never before hired an attorney. Getting a referral from family, friends, and co-workers can be helpful. If you do not know an attorney, a referral from an attorney’s former client is an excellent way to start.
Whether by referral, through the internet, or the yellow pages, it is perfectly okay to shop around for an attorney. In fact, I would encourage you to speak to several different attorneys. Going through a divorce or a family law matter is not a pleasant experience. The last thing you need to do is hire an attorney who will make that experience even less pleasant. Look for an attorney you can feel comfortable with and who you think you can work with.
Many attorneys’ offer free consultations while others charge for the initial consultation. But in either case, make sure that you meet with the potential attorneys in person. Remember, these consultations are actually a job interview. You are interviewing a potential employee. You have every right to ask about the attorney’s background, qualifications, experience, and any other questions you may have. Remember, you are the boss.
Choose a Local Attorney:
It is generally wise to hire an attorney who is familiar with the local Court system. It makes no sense to hire an out of the area attorney for a case in the Ventura County Court. While the law is the same throughout the state of California, each Court and each individual Judge handles matters somewhat differently. Make sure that the attorney you hire has experience and is familiar with the local Court and the local Judges.
Choose the Right Attorney for You:
There are a number of ways of handling a divorce/family law matter. If you are unsure, whether Mediation, cooperation, collaborative family law, or litigation best suites your needs, be sure to talk to an attorney who is qualified in all of the above.
Also, there are different types of law firms. Decide for yourself whether you would prefer the personal service provided by a sole practitioner or would prefer working with a large law firm with a number of different attorneys.
Once you have made the decision to go forward, and find the attorney for you, it’s time to get started. Generally speaking, it is not a good idea to put off what needs to be done. Hire your attorney to start the process.