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Retaining Family Law Counsel: Choose Wisely

Selecting a lawyer to represent you in a complex family law dispute is a critical decision. One of the most important aspects of your case is the relationship with your attorney. When facing divorce, or during a complex post-dissolution modification dispute, a litigant may question what is expected in the attorney-client relationship. Divorce litigants may find it difficult to identify the distinctions that may exist between lawyers. There is a wide spectrum of talent and capabilities; family law disputes also vary in complexity.

When choosing and working with an attorney, it is important that your lawyer possesses the appropriate skill set to successfully manage the complexity of your dispute. Skilled lawyers should be attentive, diligent, accessible and deliberative throughout the process. As skill sets among family law attorneys vary widely, selecting the right attorney to provide the attention an individual case may require asking the right questions. Do not make the mistake of underestimating the complexity of issues in your case, that in many instances may not be apparent to you.  As you may hope to resolve your matter amicably by agreement, you should educate yourself about the law as it pertains to yourself and your spouse.

Common Questions Litigants Should Ask In Choosing Legal Counsel

It is often difficult to know how to select a lawyer. Unanswered questions about how the law applies to your case, or simply a lack of access to your lawyer, may make the litigation process frustrating and difficult. Moreover, when attorneys fail to diligently communicate with litigants during the process, the attorney may not enact a strategy crafted to best advocate for the litigant’s goals. Similarly, during the course of the proceedings –when lawyers are inattentive, or sometimes may be distracted as they may be occupied attending to other clients – the effectiveness of your representation may suffer. Common questions that you may have regarding how to select a lawyer should include:

  • How does the lawyer communicate with clients, and does that engagement facilitate informed decisions?
  • How does the attorney develop legal strategies; are the legal strategies in line with client goals, or does it seem more like a standard course to obtain any potential resolution?
  • Does the legal team adequately and timely prepare litigants for testimony — including  depositions, court hearings and trial?
  • How does the lawyer analyze financial data; does the attorney ensure that opposing litigants provide complete and accurate financial disclosures, as well as pursuing updated discovery materials on an ongoing basis?
  • When new information is discovered, does the lawyer have the agility to augment and/or modify the strategy in an effort to protect client interests in light of the new circumstances?
  • Does the attorney have experience utilizing forensic accountants and other expert witnesses often involved in complex matrimonial disputes?
  • Does the lawyer have experience in selecting and/or communicating with child advocates, guardians ad litem and attorneys representing minors in family law litigation?
  • How well-versed is the attorney in managing legal and physical custody issues, including but not limited to, working with child custody evaluators in the event disputes cannot be resolved in a negotiated setting?
  • Does the lawyer have the requisite capacity to de-escalate conflict during negotiations, as well as to aggressively represent your interests in a litigated setting when negotiations fail to yield an acceptable agreement?

The Importance Of Communication

Your lawyer must communicate with you about the law and how the law pertains to your case. You should have the opportunity to understand a variety of potential options, as well as the risks of each course of action to allow you to make knowledgeable choices. Your attorney should also obtain your informed consent to implement the strategies in your case in an effort to serve your goals and meet your objectives.

The Importance Of Diligence

Lawyers have a duty to act with reasonable diligence and promptness. 1 Conn. Prac., Super. Ct. Civ. Rules R 1.3. Procrastination, or lack of attention to detail, may each result in devastating results in a marital dissolution. A lawyer should have the skill and judgment to craft language in agreements in an effort to avoid ambiguity that may result in post judgment litigation.  Does your lawyer have a command of language to serve your interests?  Does your attorney rely simply upon stock language in legal documents that appear in many of that lawyer’s cases?  Expedience ought not be the enemy of skill, preparation and diligence.  Your interests are paramount, and your lawyer must ethically represent your interests with commitment and dedication. A lack of diligence may fail to uncover financial data or other facts that may adversely impact the status of your legal position or your status in the case.

Parrino|Shattuck, PC, we are seasoned negotiators and experienced litigators. We thoroughly investigate the facts and diligently prepare for negotiations and litigation. We work closely with clients to devise the best course of action, given the facts of each case. We educate clients and communicate at every stage of the litigation in an effort to provide our clients with sufficient information to make important decisions.

Our law firm’s top priority is client service. We are accessible and responsive to client needs, providing regular communication, real-time updates and prompt legal counseling on issues that may arise during litigation.

Contact Us For A Consultation Or A Case Evaluation

Parrino|Shattuck, PC, is often asked to serve as rescue counsel in family law matters. We represent clients in Fairfield County and throughout Connecticut. To obtain a case evaluation, call our office in Westport at 203-557-9755 or send us a brief message online.