Month: June 2012

On Client Communication

Communication with your divorce attorney is an essential, yet often overlooked, aspect of the divorce or family law process. It is imperative that as a prospective client, you make every reasonable effort to stay in touch with your attorney until your case is resolved. Nothing is more frustrating for me than to not be able to contact a client, and I use as many ways as possible, including phone calls, email, and text messaging. In fact, I have withdrawn from several cases when communication between me and my client has broken down.

On the other hand, clients should monitor your level of communication so you’re not racking up legal fees and being billed for routine matters during your case. Calling your attorney every day to “check on the status” of your case is not a wise way to spend money, although I realize many attorneys are lacking in communication skills as well. The best attorney/client relationship is one where the client always feels like their attorney is keeping them apprised of the status of their case, but also gives the attorney space and time to accomplish the tasks they have been hired to do. I go out of my way to over-communicate with my clients, so there are no surprises or miscommunications throughout my representation.

Attorneys: make it a priority to communicate with your clients on a regular basis. Don’t make them chase you down to find out the status of their cases. Clients: give your attorney time and space to do the job you hired them to do. It’s a win/win for everyone.

Visitation and Child Support Misconceptions

Visitation and child support are two aspects of divorce and family law cases that many people misunderstand. Perhaps the most common misconception is that visitation and child support can be used against each other; it makes logical sense to many people, but is not actually how the law works in Alabama.

One of the most common situations where this arises is when the mother is the custodial parent and refuses to allow the non-custodial father his visitation because he is behind or missed child support payments. Conversely, many n0n-custodial fathers feel like if they can’t see their children, they shouldn’t have to pay child support, so they will stop paying if their visitation is interrupted. Clients often get upset that their court-ordered child support or visitation obligations continue regardless of the other party’s actions. The only way to modify a court’s order regarding child support or visitation, or to hold a party in contempt of court for not following the order, is to file a modification or contempt petition with the court.

If your ex-spouse or children’s mother or father is not complying with a divorce or custody order, contact a divorce or family law attorney and resolve the situation the only legal way possible: through the court’s enforcement.

You can reach our office at (866) 345-2528.

Respecting the Legal System

I had an acquaintance once tell me in a fit of…something that I “didn’t respect the legal system”. I immediately found his comment offensive, but I’ve since laughed it off. Non-lawyers judging lawyers’ respect and appreciation for “the legal system”, its minutia  and intricacies, its black and white and shades of gray, its elation and heartbreak–well, it’s something to laugh at.

I had the privilege yesterday of volunteering for the Birmingham Bar Association’s Pro Bono Family Law Clinic in Birmingham, Alabama. Sponsored by the Birmingham Volunteer Lawyers Program, of which I am an active member, the clinic provides low-income families no-cost access to legal services related to family law and domestic relations cases in Jefferson County. I met with a wonderfully nice woman in her 20’s who has three children and needs a divorce, but doesn’t have the means or resources to hire an attorney. Through the BVLP and this Clinic, she can now start her journey on the road to creating a better situation for her and her children.

Attorneys constantly battle the revilement, invectives, and thinly- (and not-so-thinly-) veiled berating from the non-lawyer public. It’s refreshing to partner with a group of attorneys who are working to better “the legal system”, and a public that appreciates our efforts.