Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Why it is often worth it to settle

While I understand the desire to either have your day in court or stick it to that cheater, etc it often is not in your best interest. Time and time again we see people pay more in attorney's fees than the asset that they are fighting over. This is all well and good if the object is sentimental, however more often than not it is money that we are talking about.

Sometimes to argue over the value of an asset people will hire specialists to come in an appraise the item (house, jewelry, etc). While sometime this is 100% necessary, it is always important to sit down and evaluate whether it is in your best interest to argue over the difference.

Although we try to educate our clients as much as possible, I often see the other side happily collecting $2000 in attorney's fees to argue over $900. Sometimes it is in your best interest to keep the money in the family and split the asset, or agree on a middle number, etc.

This sometimes is true when it comes to child support and spousal support numbers. Although very formulaic in most cases, when you have to prove how much money someone makes the fees you pay an attorney to dig through discovery documents of taxes, bank account statements, credit card statements, etc. can add up very fast.

Always talk to your attorney about the cost-benefit analysis.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Why you hire a Family Law Attorney

First off when looking for an attorney to hire your family law case, it is imperative that you hire one that practices family law regularly (hopefully primarily). There is a misnomer around attorneys and others that any attorney can handle a family law case because the best interest of the child standard is a little bit less black and white than other areas. However, family law attorneys not only know the statutes, cases, and the general law of the family court system in California, but they also know how the particular judge - or judges in general are likely to react to an issue.

You hire us for this expertise and our overall advice. However there are many clients who then want to focus on one issue in the case, very important to them, but sometimes inapplicable legally to the issue before the judge. They ignore the fact that we are there to get you to be realistic about what a Judge will order and they end up a much worse deal than if they had listened to their attorney's advice.

In California, all parties in family law are required to go to mediation and in Alameda County, Contra Costa county, and some other Bay Area counties as well they are Recommending Counselors - meaning that if the parties do not come to an agreement that they will suggest to the Judge what they feel is the best interest of the parties and the child. Guess what! Almost 100% of the time, the Judge will order what the mediator suggests.

Due to this, you hire your attorney to 1) help with the ton of paperwork required to get a divorce or custody matter, etc resolved and 2) to prepare you for the mediation so that you know what you are willing to agree to in advance and you know what the Judge is likely to rule (or mediator suggest) if you do not come to an agreement. That way you are prepared to be reasonable and may get the other side to agree to something more in your favor than a Judge likely would have ordered.