A family law attorney should be protecting you, by giving you proper advice. A client should make the decision on whether to go to trial or not. Lawyers have an obligation to tell a client, it's expensive to go to trial. There's a lot of preparation time, there's a lot of document and exhibit preparation time, not to mention court time.
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What does a family law attorney do to protect me in a divorce? A family law attorney should be protecting you by giving you proper advice. That means that the lawyer needs to know what the law says. So if a lawyer tells you and looks you in the eye, and says, “You don't qualify to get spousal maintenance,” or on the other hand, looks at the other party, or one of the other parties, and says, “Don't worry about it. A judge isn't going to order you any spousal maintenance,” because the lawyer is not experienced enough to know that there's a specific law about how spousal maintenance is going to be applied, and for how long, and how much that's going to be, or what do you do when you have a lawyer who doesn't have a copy of the child support guidelines software in their computer, and the attorney is telling you, “Don't worry about it. You're only going to have to pay $300 a month in child support,” when in fact, it's double that, or some other amount?
These are all the kinds of things, the pitfalls, that confront people that try to do their divorces by themselves. A family law attorney should be giving a client advice so that the client can make educated decisions. A lot of times, that means that there's options, and clients are the ones that make those important decisions. A client should make the decision on whether to go to trial or not. Lawyers have an obligation to tell a client it's expensive to go to trial. There's a lot of preparation time. There's a lot of document and exhibit preparation time, not to mention court time.
A few months ago, I was in court, and I was scheduled to go to trial against this other attorney. The parties were all there, and the judge was in trial on somebody else's case. Couldn't finish that other case, and had us come back five months later. Well, an experienced attorney is going to tell you that the dockets get crowded, and maybe your case isn't going to be finished in one afternoon. What if the judge only offers you two hours, or three hours, and you know that you need a full day? So, having an experienced attorney on your side is going to give you options, so that you can make educated decisions.
But the most important thing is this. When you have an attorney who understands the law, you yourself can become educated as to what the possible outcomes are going to be, and until you are explained what those outcomes are, it's going to be very difficult to make informed decisions, and some of those decisions you make, you may have tremendous regret for having made those decisions if you've not taken the time and set forth your proper legal strategies with your lawyer to achieve certain outcomes that are vital to your interests and your family's best interests.