“I want a divorce!” One day, without warning, your spouse drops this bomb on you. You had no idea that your spouse wanted to break up the marriage. What should you do?
Retain independent legal counsel
You are at a crossroads in your relationship. Your marriage has become adversarial by virtue of your spouse’s decision to end the marriage. The claims arising out of your marriage are legal claims that need to be protected for you.
When you are attempting to resolve your claims arising from the marriage, regardless of the level of complexity of your case, you need a family law attorney with the experience, skills and expertise needed to represent your best interests effectively. Chances are your spouse has already consulted with an attorney. You should retain independent legal representation without delay.
How do I select an attorney?
Recommendations from trusted sources, such as a relative, neighbor, friend, coworker, your therapist or some other reliable source, is probably the most commonly used method for locating and choosing a family law attorney. Recommendations from people and sources you trust are helpful but don’t base your decision solely on personal referrals. You should check out the attorney’s qualifications.
Where can I get information about qualifications?
Look on their website, which should contain information on their educational background, where the attorney is licensed to practice law, his or her memberships or fellowships in “certified professional organizations,” and their accomplishments. Check to see if the attorney has been certified as a family law specialist by the North Carolina State Bar or is a Fellow in the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.
To become a member or fellow, the attorney must pass written tests that demonstrate their command of family law and procedure and undergo interviews.
Certification as a family law specialist is not required by the State Bar in order to be authorized to practice family law. There are many experienced family law attorneys who are not a ‘certified professional association” AAML) which are two examples of certified professional associations of such organizations. However, knowing that your attorney is certified as a family law specialist by the North Carolina State Bar and/or is a fellow in the AAML should assure you that your attorney can handle effectively your claims.
What are my next steps?
Schedule an initial consultation with the attorney. Initial consultations typically take one to two hours. A flat fee, ranging from $100.00 to $750.00, will be charged for the conference. In your initial meeting, the attorney will gather more information from you. At the end of the conference, the attorney should be able to give you a preview of what to expect in your case, advise as to whether your goals are reasonable and obtainable, and possibly lay out recommended strategies for your case.
Offit Kurman’s family law practice group includes attorneys who are certified as family law specialists by the North Carolina State Bar as well as attorneys who are recognized as Fellows in the AAML. If you need legal advice and currently do not have an attorney, or you are looking for a fresh perspective on your case, please consider Offit Kurman.
ABOUT ELIZABETH HODGES
Beth Hodges’ practice is devoted exclusively to family law. Ms. Hodges’ cases involve the litigation, negotiation, and settlement of simple as well as complex financial and non-financial issues and disputes.