Sunday, February 23, 2014

From Whom Are You Taking Legal Advice?

Probably the most common thing I hear as a family law attorney is "My brother's cousin's best friend's nephew told me I can get [x] in my case."   X, of course, being whatever the person talking to me really wants to happen in the case.   Usually, this involves being told if you get joint custody, you don't have to pay child support.

In my crankier moods I want to respond with "And where did this person go to law school?"   In nicer moods, I patiently explain why that might not be possible in this particular case.   Especially the joint custody gets you out of child support one.   That one is highly unlikely.  

People always want to argue based on what they heard, saw on tv, read in the paper, whatever.   The problem is that 1) the people they are talking to are not lawyers and/or 2) every family law case is very fact dependent.   Within the law what is possible in one case might not be possible in another.

What really baffles me is that people are paying me to give them legal advice, then challenge me when I give it to them.   I and every other attorney went to law school.   We passed a bar exam.  We are qualified by the authority that granted our law licenses to give legal advice.   Why would listen to someone with no legal training over someone who has all that?   I know, people want to hear good news.   They want to hear that what they want is possible.   I get that.  But, once you are told by qualified people that what you want is not possible and they have explained to you why it is not possible, you should listen.

Family law cases are stressful enough.   They are not fast either.   A case can take months to get to trial (but usually not years).   Involving family members and friends by listening to their legal advice over that of your attorney, only makes the matter harder and longer.  

Obviously, ask questions of your lawyer.   Make your lawyer explain until you understand.   After all, you are the one who has to live with the consequences.   But don't make a difficult matter worse by taking the legal advice of non-lawyers over that of your lawyer.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Relaunch - Refocus

When I started this blog, the idea was to use sports to explain family law.   I quickly found out that the most common problem athletes run into is not paying child support (hey they are just regular folks after all).   There were only so many times I can say "Dude, pay your child support."   So the blog kinda faltered.   Okay died like the Broncos offense when faced with the Seahawks D in the Super Bowl.   Definitely not pretty.

I also found myself tweeting a lot about stuff I saw in family law that day at the courthouse or heard about  or just thought of.   A lot of that stuff does not really explain well in 140 characters.

Combining these two things made me realize its time to relaunch this blog.   Same name, new focus.   I am just going to talk about family law issues in good plain English so someone who is dealing with the court system for the first time can understand it.   Understand it enough to work with their attorney to achieve a realistic result.   What I post here is not legal advice, might not apply to a particular situation faced by a reader and quite, frankly, should not be relied on solely in court.   Family law is emotional.   You need an attorney to help you deal with the legal stuff, so you don't have to deal with it and the emotional stuff too.

Obviously sports will still creep in.   It can't be helped.   That's who I am.  Even my non-sports liking clients get sports metaphors.

Hope you enjoy the new focus.   Feel free to comment often.