A disturbingly large percentage of our legal work is trying to correct or undo mistakes made by other people in cases. Sadly, most of the time those mistakes were made because someone was trying to cut costs by avoiding important issues. Common issues we encounter include:
- Not properly identifying property to be divided. If property is not specifically mentioned or identified properly, you may not be able to retrieve it later.
- Not addressing a former spouse's substance abuse, mental health or violent tendencies. If you agree to joint custody "just to get it over with," you may have difficulty in the future getting a court to address parenting problems related to the other parent's issues.
- Not properly assessing support claims. If you waive alimony in your divorce, you can't revisit it later.
- Leaving out details about parenting time. If you do not include a holiday schedule in your decree, the judge may not be in a hurry to help you when you realize in mid-December that your ex is not going to cooperate with you for Christmas break.
- Not obtaining adequate financial information. If you do not gather all necessary information about property and financial accounts, you may permanently waive your claims to shares of cash, pensions and other retirement benefits.
Every day we see people spending more money trying to fix mistakes than they would have spent if they'd properly addressed the issues the first time. It can be more difficult to re-do something than it would have been to do it correctly the first time.
Many times the issues that we help people with are the result of shortcuts to try to save money. Sometimes people buy paperwork from online services to handle their divorce or child custody matter without a lawyer. Other times people hire cheap lawyers or don't follow legal advice about their best options because those options have costs. In most of those cases, they end up paying more later to try to undo something or to do something that should have been done months or years ago. It has been said that There's nothing more expensive than a cheap lawyer.
We are trial lawyers. We talk about the value of hiring a trial lawyer even though we know that most cases don't go to trial and even that sometimes going to trial may not make sense. This is because your case will always be best assessed by a real trial lawyer who is trained and experienced and who is looking ahead to the end result, rather than someone who avoids trial or who does not even know how to try a case. There are many services offering discount divorce paperwork and even some legal advice. We know about those services because we get a lot of business trying to undo the damage caused by their shortcuts.
The way we handle cases is no secret. By the time our clients get to the stages of mediation and trial, they are more prepared for those events than most attorneys, because we share information with our clients that is not taught to lawyers in law school.
In 2021, we implemented a system that is typically used by giant law firms. It includes document generation and automatic text reminders to clients. Our system saves hours by automatically doing tasks that take other attorneys an enormous amount of time. This frees us up to spend time with our clients and mediate and try cases. Our clients benefit from our extra availability and from the lower costs of our documents that other attorneys would charge hundreds of dollars more for preparing. We recently began using a powerful intake process that is easy to use and helps people give us the most important information to assess their family law situations.
Be wary of any organization or online form that promises a shortcut or an impossible discount. If you use those services, you may pay a premium later, either in legal fees or when you realize what you lost by accidentally waiving your rights.