Matthews Bark | “How to Find Your Perfect Divorce Lawyer”

Source       :   lawdiva.wordpress.com
Category   :   Matthews Bark
By                 :   Georgialee Lang
Posted By  :  Contact the Attorney General

Let’s face it, most of us who commit ourselves into the bond of marriage are reluctant to think about it one day crumbling into a messy divorce, but the truth is, with today’s increasing divorce numbers, the reality is downright dismal ( in the US around 50% of all first marriages end in divorce, about 67% for second marriages and the numbers quickly rise with the number of additional marriages).
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So what does this mean in terms of finding an attorney if you are among that fifty percent wanting to dissolve you marriage? Plenty!

Here are a few tips to heed if you find yourself needing someone to help you wade through the murky and unfamiliar waters of divorce.

• Before you file: Really consider the ramifications of filing for divorce. Have you exhausted every avenue before taking the steps for your divorce? Counseling and separation can be important steps to take before you make the final move.

Be very careful about moving about before the divorce, this could potentially be used against you, especially in the case of determining custody for minor children. Run a credit check for yourself, if possible get your finances in the best shape that you can. Divorce is extremely expensive and no matter the verdict, both parties will lose when it comes to finances.

Are you the non-breadwinner? You will need to take care of your personal finances as well as your healthcare, housing, cars and personal effects. A good attorney will inform you of what you should do long before you sign anything. Above all, if you can avoid divorce, then do so. Except in the cases of abuse or criminal behaviors on the part of your spouse, you should give your marriage every effort. Divorce should always be a last resort.

• Arbitration and Mediation versus litigation: The dissolution of a marriage cannot be on the same footing as breaking a business contract, though similar as seen through the eyes of the law, no one can put a price on the cost of someone’s betrayal or the lives of children of divorced parents who will forever grieve the loss of a family unit.

But there are ways to lessen the emotional trauma often association with divorce. If at all possible going through mediation services versus outright litigation will help not only with the overall costs, but will help families make choices over issues that can become quickly contentious if presided over by a non-family member or law enforcement.

Talk with your attorney; chances are if they have experience with family law and especially mediation expertise, this would make a better fit than someone hell-bent on taking on your spouse for every nickel and dime. Consider arbitration as an alternative to a lengthy, drawn-out court battle.

• Your attorney’s personal history: Find out about your attorney. Are they married? Or have they also been through a divorce, child custody battles with their own children or were they able to use their legal acumen to help minimize the trauma inflicted on all parties involved.

Sit down and talk with them about your personal feelings in regards to your spouse’s role, your custody concerns and your future. Do they really seem to be listening, adding thoughtful comments to your concerns or do you feel even more ambivalent after you leave their office?

Other than the death of a family member, going through a divorce is right there when it comes to life-altering experiences and more than ever, you will need someone who you feel confident in, someone who will stand up and defend you and fight for all rights.

Matthews Bark | “How Effective Must Lawyers Be in Family Law Cases?”

Source       :   prawfsblawg.blogs.com
Category   :   Matthews Bark
By                 :   Howard Wasserman
Posted By  :  Contact the Attorney General

At risk of inspiring more “breeder” comments, I wanted to write about a very interesting recent decision from the Vermont Supreme Court  (h/t to mike frisch of legal profession blog). The court was considering an ineffectiveness of counsel claim in a termination of parental rights proceeding. The court found that counsel was not ineffective. The more interesting question, left unanswered but highlighted by the concurrence, is whether ineffectiveness claims should be allowed in termination of parental rights cases at all.
Family-Law-Attorney
The criminal system, and potential incarceration or even execution, are undoubtedly punitive. But so is severing all legal ties to your child, often so that he or she can be adopted by another family, leaving you with no further contact. The tremendous impact of termination proceedings led the Supreme Court to mandate they be decided by clear and convincing evidence.  The disproportionate power between the state and the defendant (parent) is reminiscent of that in the criminal system.  (A number of people have written about the flaws and inequities towards certain types of parents including me in Parsing Parenthood; Marty Guggenheim in a bunch of things including Somebody’s Children; Clare Huntington in Rights Myopia in Child Welfare;  Josh Gupta-Kagan in Filling the Due Process Donut Hole; and I could go on and on). This imbalance means that a zealous advocate can often be essential to prevailing against the might of the state.

Yet most states do not recognize this doctrine in the family law context–why? One significant reason is the ticking clock of the child’s need for a ‘permanent’ family. Federal law requires that termination proceedings be brought in a certain period of time, so that a child may be freed for adoption. (There are significant flaws in this framework, however, as many thousands of children whose parents’ rights are terminated are not adopted, and will never be, leaving them to age out of foster care “legal orphans.”)  In the Vermont case, I don’t think it was a coincidence that the child was very young, under 2 years old I think, and was placed in a loving pre-adoptive home. Reopening the father’s termination proceeding would disrupt that new family, and possibly deter future adoptive parents, who were seeking certainty. As the concurrence there stated: “I stress that I have not yet decided that we should allow ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claims in TPR cases. [and] I am stating my skepticism that there is a way to determine whether the assistance of counsel is ineffective in a timely way that is consistent with the permanency needs of the child .”

I am also on the fence about this one.  Many parents have deficient counsel in termination proceedings, as many defendants do in criminal proceedings, and it is horribly unfair that someone would be forever separated from his child because of this. On the other hand, allowing relitigation of terminations can and will disrupt adoptive or other permanent families for many children.