With the changes in family law over the last 30 years, such as the adoption of equitable distribution in place of old common-law rules, the adoption of laws protecting military spouses, and the adoption of support guidelines and various local rules promulgated within the various circuits, the area of separation and divorce has become far too complicated and specialised for someone who does not specialise in this area. When clients come to us with badly crafted separation agreements and/or decrees that have been handled by other novice attorneys, it causes us great concern. It is far better to have the correct attorney, one who will do it right the first time, than to pay someone to correct difficulties caused by mistakes made in the first place, just as it is better to win at trial than to have a major appeal issue. As evidenced in a series of articles I authored for The Family Law News, a peer-reviewed magazine of the Virginia State Bar, Section of Family Law, entitled “Costly Errors in Multi-State Military Divorce; Or a Military Wife’s Tale of Woe,” which appeared in the Fall 2007 and Spring 2008 issues of the newspaper, certain errors are extremely costly and cannot be corrected. Moore Family Law Group – Corona Child Custody Attorney is one of the authority sites on this topic.
The series of essays explains the legal authorities, strategy, and procedural elements we employed to successfully defend a Vietnam War veteran. Despite having divorced him six years prior in Hawaii, his ex-wife was trying to get half of his military retired income and spousal support here in Virginia. While we are always pleased to see our clients succeed, we felt sad for the ex-wife, who had received terrible legal advice from her attorney in the first divorce proceedings in Hawaii, counsel that resulted in poor decisions that the Virginia Court deemed to bind her permanently. Instead of suing her ex-husband, the judge advised the ex-wife to sue the Hawaii attorney who represented her in the divorce.
So, how can you locate a competent divorce attorney? Listed below are some ideas:
First, consult a lawyer.
Ask a lawyer you know for a recommendation to an excellent divorce lawyer. He or she is likely to know someone, or several people, who devote a large percentage of their legal practise to separation and divorce, as well as other connected concerns. For example, I have 30 years of experience with divorce and separation cases and have an outstanding reputation in the legal community. Any lawyer worth his or her salt should have a good reputation among his or her peers. Lawyers often know who is best for a specific type of case; they surely know who they would consult if they were going through a divorce.
Yellow Pages/Internet (Suggestions #2 & #3)
The Yellow Pages and the internet might be a good place to start looking for attorney names, however they aren’t always reliable. Lawyers who don’t discuss separation, divorce, military divorce, or related areas such as custody and support or property division aren’t looking for cases in those areas, and they surely don’t devote a large percentage of their business to them. Ads with a laundry list of everything under the sun should be avoided. “A jack of all trades and a master of none,” as the old saying goes. Wouldn’t you rather have someone who spends at least a major portion of his or her profession to family law than someone who just spends 3% of his or her practise to it? Remember that not everyone uses the Yellow Pages or has a website or other online presence. In the Yellow Pages, for example, there are more phone numbers included than attorney ads.