Matthews Bark | “Supreme Court rule can affect Minneapolis child custody disputes”

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Category   :   Matthews Bark
By                 :  Swaden Law Offices
Posted By  :  Contact the Attorney General

It is a good thing when children are loved but not such a great thing when that love results in a child custody dispute that lasts several years. Torn between two families that love her, a young toddler has spent half her life with her Caucasian adoptive parents and half her life with her Native American biological father while a final judgment looms over the families regarding final custody.
Supreme Court
The controversy began when the biological father, a member of the Cherokee Nation, made a regrettable decision before the child was born to abandon both child and mother. The biological mother later began adoption proceedings and the child was placed with an adoptive family. However, after learning that his child was put up for adoption, the biological father changed his mind and fought to gain custody of his child.

The father’s main legal argument was that the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, which precluded the separation of Native American children from their biological parents, entitled him to custody. Although the local court had applied the Act and granted custody to the father, the Supreme Court ruled that the Act did not apply because the father had abandoned the child. The case was remanded back to the local courts for a determination of custody outside of the Act.

In Minnesota, when a local court determines a child custody dispute, several factors are considered in making that decision. The overriding standard for a child custody determination is “the best interest of the child” and all factors are examined with this standard in mind. Some of those factors may include the parents’ wishes, the child’s wishes if old enough, the child’s primary caretaker, the child’s emotional bond with each parent and siblings, physical stability, the mental and physical health of the parents and their capacity to love the child. No one factor is conclusive and there are other factors the court considers. These are just a few examples.

Minnesota parents in a child custody dispute should be aware of the factors the court considers in determining the parent that will serve the child’s best interest. Child custody cases should be taken seriously with the proper legal representation because a child custody order is difficult to change outside of a substantial change in circumstances.

Matthews Bark | “Tips to Looking For Best Criminal Defense Attorneys”

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Category   :   Matthews Bark
By                 :  Above the law
Posted By  :  Contact the Attorney General

Criminal defense attorneys аrе specialists іn managing criminal cases οf various scopes. Thеѕе аrе lawyers whose vocation іѕ established οn supplying vital services tο thе individuals whο аrе accused аѕ criminal bу thе court οf law. Thе fundamental intention οf acquiring thе service οf a criminal defense attorney іѕ thаt, thіѕ lawyer wіll dispute thе positions wіth respect tο numerous laws аnd sections produced tο serve thе people іn opposition tο thе criminal cases. Criminal lawyers аrе classified under diverse classifications аnd sections.
Criminal Defense Attorney
Individuals, whеn thеу аrе arrested fοr ѕοmе criminal act such аѕ rape, murder, sex crimes, theft, kidnapping, domestic violence, hit аnd rυn аnd numerous οthеr criminal cases, thеу wіll bе progressed under thе court οf law. Wіth such case, thе criminal defense attorney wіll argue fοr thе criminal аnd supply thеm аѕѕіѕtаnсе. Criminal attorneys supply more vital services tο thе citizens around thе globe. Thеѕе lawyers аrе thουght tο bе more essential аnd іmрοrtаnt аnd аlѕο draw more demand аmοng thе populace.

Thеѕе days, top Delaware criminal defense attorney аrе necessary іn extra numbers, ѕіnсе crimes hаνе increased іn grеаt amount. Thе cost concern paid fοr еνеrу attorney wіll differ аѕ per thе fame, popularity аnd successfulness сrеаtеd fοr thе individual. Thеѕе lawyers offer thеіr hеlр tο thе public fοr a affordable price tο allow thеm tο nοt bе affronted bу thе court exclusive οf аnу illegal behavior. Thеrе аrе cases wеrе individuals mіght bе arrested fοr non-performing οf illegal act.

In thеѕе cases, thе criminal defense attorney wіll supply аѕѕіѕtаnсе tο thе people bу attending thе case fοr thеm іn court аnd mаkе thе case аnd facilitate thе people tο emerge frοm thе case. Thеѕе days, defense attorneys аrе nесеѕѕаrу fοr each аnd еνеrу crime done bу people. A criminal lawyer іѕ different thаn οthеr professionals. Thеѕе lawyers specialize іn inspecting , analyzing, аnd examining thе criminal cases thеу undertake. Thеѕе lawyers саn argue fοr еіthеr thе defendant οr fοr thе plaintiff.

Matthews Bark | “How to Select a Criminal Defense Attorney”

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Category   :   Matthews Bark
By                 :  cardolaw
Posted By  :  Contact the Attorney General

Look for a criminal defense attorney that devotes a majority of their practice to the area of defense that you’re looking for.

Whether you are seeking an attorney that specializes in DUIs, violent crime defense, or any other criminal defense specialty, make sure that the attorney you select to represent you is familiar with the area of law that you need defense in.

Criminal Defense Attorney
Determine what qualities are important to you when selecting a criminal defense attorney.

Determining what qualities are most important to you will allow you to select the best criminal defense attorney for your case. Is there any expert knowledge required? Is experience the most important factor in selecting an attorney for you? Whatever your preference may be, select an attorney that reflects these preferences.

Find out if the criminal defense attorney you may potentially retain has earned a Martindale-Hubbell rating.

The Martindale-Hubbell rating system reserves its highest rating, “AV”, for attorneys with the highest ability and ethics ratings based upon the opinions of other judges and attorneys who have interacted with them.

Inquire about whether the criminal defense attorney you may potentially retain has ever taught at a law school, CLE program or published a legal article.

This is an excellent way to determine both the attorney’s standing in the legal community and the level of field work, research and investigation they have invested into continued legal knowledge.

Finally, discuss the facts of your case with your potential criminal defense attorney and find out how they would proceed, if retained.

This part of the interviewing process will allow the potential criminal defense attorney to demonstrate the advantages of retaining a criminal defense attorney familiar with your area of criminal defense. At this time, it may be beneficial to ask questions about which attorneys will be working on your matter and their level of experience.

Attorney Michael Cardoza is founder of the Cardoza Law Offices and practices in Oakland, Berkeley, and surrounding Bay Area cities—as well as other regions in California. The Cardoza Law Offices specializes in criminal defense including sexual offenses, white collar crimes, murder and homicide, DUI defense, federal criminal defense, assault and violent crimes, mortgage fraud, internet crimes, Federal criminal defense, drug crimes, and death penalty cases; civil and business litigation including civil rights law, construction law, real estate law, employment law, contract disputes, business litigation and commercial real estate;; and personal injury, including wrongful death, severe personal injury, automobile accidents, dog mauling incidents and animal attacks.

Matthews Bark | “Picking the Right Divorce Attorney for YOU!”

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Category   :   Matthews Bark
By                 :   Lori Caldwell-Carr
Posted By  :  Contact the Attorney General

I often tell my clients that picking a divorce attorney is unlike choosing any other legal professional, because you are picking someone to live through a very difficult time with you. The first thing we always discuss is the fact that just like you should be 99.9% sure when you get married, you should be 99.9% sure when you get divorced as it will just as substantially affect your life. It is my belief that the number one decision we make in our lives that determines our happiness or misery is whom we marry. Many of my clients agree and have concluded that for any multitude of reasons they just can’t remain married to their current spouse.
Family Law Attorney
However, this doesn’t mean they aren’t sad, because no one marries thinking they will some day divorce. This also doesn’t mean they aren’t mad or hurt by whatever has brought them to my office. Most often, my clients are afraid. Afraid of how they will support themselves and their children. Afraid of when and how they will see their children. Afraid of how this will affect their children’s physical and emotional security. Afraid of what the legal process will do to them and their families. Sadly, some are even physically afraid that their spouse will injure them or their children.

I find it upsetting to see how often clients come to me as their second, third or even fourth attorney. Changing attorneys during the process is time consuming and expensive. I have compiled a checklist to assist you in picking your right match in a divorce attorney. However, as my mother always told me, never forget to listen to your “inner voice.” Do you feel comfortable in their office? Do they seem to have a good working relationship with their staff (one of mutual respect)? Do they really listen to what you say when you are speaking? Do they answer your questions candidly, even if it isn’t the answer you wanted?

Checklist for Picking Your Divorce Attorney

Finding A Divorce Lawyer

1. Where To Look For That Lawyer – It always concerns me when people tell me they found their attorney (including me) from a billboard, advertisement on the radio, phone book or through a blind internet search without any additional research. Unfortunately, lawyers cannot provide you with lists of previous clients to call due to confidentiality, but there are other ways to check a lawyer out.

If you happen to find a person that raves about their divorce attorney, that is an attorney worth checking out! Everyone knows someone who has been through a divorce.

Unfortunately, you usually hear most about the divorce attorneys that didn’t do their job for their client rather than the good ones. So if you have a trusted friend who has been through a divorce, ask them. Did you like your attorney? Were they responsive to your needs? Did you get an acceptable outcome?

Good professionals have networks of other professionals they know and deal with on a regular basis. Since I practice only family law, I know many skilled attorneys that practice in other areas of law and I am always happy to provide the names and numbers of other qualified attorneys for them to check out. I also have a network of mental health and financial professionals that I deal with on a regular basis both for referrals and as experts for my clients. Good lawyers network with other good lawyers and professionals.

Quality attorneys work hard for their clients and build networks of highly-competent legal and non-legal professionals. Calling a divorce lawyer and stating you were referred by one of their network will generally give you an immediate connection to that lawyer.

So ask the lawyer who formed your last corporation or did the closing on your house, “Do you know a good divorce attorney?” or “Have you heard of attorney x who I saw in an ad?” Or ask the counselor you’ve been seeing or the accountant that does your taxes. Most attorneys advertise, including myself, but choosing your attorney from an advertisement alone is not the best way to choose someone to legally assist you during a difficult time in your life.

2. Additional Checks – With or without a referral, before you set an appointment, go to the Florida Bar Website and make sure the lawyer you are considering is in good standing and has a clear record with the Bar. Also verify the lawyer is part of the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar. If the lawyer is not willing to pay the small fee to be part of the Family Law Section they may not be serious about family law. The law is changing so quickly in the area of family law that lawyers who are immersed in one or two areas of law will be better qualified to keep pace with those changes.

3. Make a List of What You are Looking For In a Divorce Lawyer – Divorce lawyers are people too. Make a list of the characteristics you would like in a divorce attorney and write them down: good listener, patient, calm, soft spoken, in control, etc. Then make a list of characteristics you do NOT want in a divorce attorney and write them down: arrogant, impatient, controlling, doesn’t listen. Each individual looks for something different. Do you want an attorney who has children? Do you feel protected by a man? Can you speak more openly to a woman? Do you want an attorney who has personally been through something you are experiencing? Write it down.

4. Go to the Lawyer’s Website – Don’t just go to the website; carefully read it. The website should be a reflection of the attorney. Make sure the philosophy and goals of the attorney are consistent with your own. Compare it to the lists you made about the things you are looking for in an attorney. Check to see how many areas of law the lawyer practices other than family law. Read the bio of the attorney and see what organizations they belong to. The website should create a picture in your mind of the type of person the attorney is and what matters to them.

question-mark-155×1165. Make your list of Questions – Write down every question you can think of, every question, even if you think it is silly. I have heard every imaginable question from potential clients. If it is important enough for you to think about asking I want you to ask it! Not only does it help you, but your questions tell me what is important to you and what you are concerned about.
Setting the Appointment and Initial Consultation

6. Setting the Appointment – First impressions matter and set the tone for what the rest of your experience will be like in many circumstances. Call the attorney during office hours. Does a person answer the phone? Be aware that usually you will not speak with an attorney prior to the initial consultation unless you request it. If you want to talk to the attorney prior to the consultation, ask to set a time to speak with them prior to setting the consultation (which should be limited to ten or fifteen minutes). Remember only attorneys can answer legal questions.

7. Initial Consultation – What you come away with from the initial consultation will be based on your goals and how well prepared you are. To get the most out of the consultation, be prepared with questions and information the attorney will need.

What you should take to the initial consultation:

  •     Any completed paperwork sent to you prior to the consultation
  •     Your current driver’s license
  •     Any pertinent correspondence that you have had with your spouse or their attorney
  •     Any legal documents that you have been served with or from previous issues that relate to the divorce
  •     Copies of any pre or post marriage contracts
  •     Social security numbers for you, your spouse and all minor children
  •     A list of all current assets and liabilities owned by you or your spouse

You should leave the initial consultation with the following information:

  •     A full explanation of the law as it relates to the issues in your divorce situation (you don’t need to hear about child support if you have no children)
  •     A list of options available to you in reference to resolution of those issues
  •     The potential risk and reward associated with each option
  •     The initial cost of the retainer associated with those options
  •     Answers to all of your questions.

There is usually a fee for the initial consultation if legal information is being provided. Unless there is an urgent reason that action needs to be taken immediately such as a response to a legal deadline, a parent threatening removal of a minor child from the state or money going missing, I recommend that you not hire the attorney at that initial consultation. At least think about it over night.  Go to as many consultations as you think are necessary to find the right attorney for you. The cost associated with a consultation is much less than the cost to change attorneys halfway through a case. Good lawyers educate their clients on options and are committed to helping, not selling.

8. Post Consultation – Go home after the initial consultation and find a time to sit down and evaluate what the lawyer told you. Ask yourself some hard questions. Does this person seem trustworthy? Do they seem to know the law in this area? Are they confident? Do they listen to me when I am speaking? Are they responsive to what I tell them about how I want my life’s issues resolved? Do they seem to have a network of other professionals, both legal and non-legal, if they are needed? Do they know the judges and other family law professionals in the county where I will be filing my divorce?

Hiring the Divorce Attorney

handshake-210×1399. Legal Contract – Once you have found the right divorce lawyer, it is time to hire them. Most firms require that you set a time to go into their office and sign the legal contract and pay the initial retaining fee. Be concerned if the attorney does not have a written contract for legal services because this contract protects you as well as the attorney. The attorney or a member of their staff should review the contract with you and answer any questions you may have. Most lawyers will not start working on your matter until the contract has been signed and initial payment made.

10. Ongoing Relationship – Keep the lines of communication open with your lawyer. If something happens that you think could affect your case, don’t be afraid to call your lawyer because you will be charged for the time. I explain to my clients that I want to be consulted prior to their changing anything material to the case. The reason for this is that something done today could substantially affect what I am able to do for you down the road. If you are concerned about the cost of your attorney, ask for weekly updates as to where you stand with your retainer balance and billing statement. You should (at a minimum) get monthly statements unless you have a flat fee, phase or value billing arrangement in which case you know what your cost is upfront.

Finally, the closing meeting with my client is the meeting where they evaluate my team. It is important to me that my clients have gotten an acceptable result based upon their goals allowing them to move forward with happy and productive lives.
The Goal

Matthews Bark | “Five Family Law Terms Your Attorney Might Use”

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Category   :   Matthews Bark
By                 :   Family Law
Posted By  :  Contact the Attorney General

Whenever you find yourself in the middle of a family legal dispute, your most important assets are attorneys for family law. The ideal family lawyer will have both years of training and of experience handling a variety of cases, including some similar to your own. When searching for the right attorney to represent your case, it helps to educate yourself about the family law process. Here are a couple of key terms you may hear your attorney use. By knowing what they mean, you are better prepared to give your attorney the info he needs to win the case.

Family Law Attorney Matthews BarkConservatorship

The legally designated conservator of a child has the right and responsibility to make major decisions for the child’s life. This includes education and school choices, medical decisions, and religious and moral upbringing. This is also sometimes referred to as custody. You may also hear your attorney make a distinction between legal custody and physical custody. A parent with legal custody has the authority to make decisions about the child’s life, and will often share physical custody, or the right to take possession of the child.

Sole vs. Joint Custody

You may already be familiar with the terms sole custody or joint custody or conservatorship. Sole custody means that only one parent has conservatorship rights of a child. Joint custody means that custody is shared between both parents, while the parents are separated. Within this distinction, parents may share some rights, but not others. For instance, one parent may have legal custody and share physical custody, or they can share both equally, etc. Flexible arrangements can be made for anyone’s family situation.

Possession and Access

In many cases where sole conservatorship is granted to one parent, often the other parent will still be allowed to see and spend time with the child. As mentioned previously, this is the same thing as one parent having physical custody of the child. In the state of Texas, schedules are used that dictate how much time the child spends with either parent. By collaborating with their child’s other parent, many people are able to create a schedule that works best for everyone involved.

Best Interests

Whenever a custody court is overseeing a case, they have a legal precedent to look out for the best interests of the child. In general, this means they will examine the family, including the financial, physical, and emotional health of both parents, to create the best living arrangement for the child to grow up in. Above all else, this is the responsibility of the custody court.

Child Support

In their investigation to determine the best interests of the child, the court may decide that the physical, educational, and emotional needs of the child will require the non-custodial parent to pay child support to the parent who has the right to designate a primary residence for the child. A parent may be required to pay child support even when they have not been granted possession and access to the child.

With these terms in mind you will be much better equipped to start holding initial consultations with the attorneys for family law. To speak to a top-rated Fort Worth family law attorney today, go to Aed Miston now!

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

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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).
Family Law Attorney
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?”

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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.
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.