Overlooked Details When Hiring A Family Law Attorney

What is the difference between juvenile court and family court?

The legal system is complex, and often, it can be hard to understand each individual branch of such a massive entity. Two of the most commonly confused courts are juvenile and family, and many people do not know the difference between the two. They are similar in many ways: for example, they are both key parts of the court system. They have many striking differences as well. An attorney who handles family law is a specialist in his field; and one who assists minors in juvenile court works with a completely different set of rules.

Family Court

Family courts have a limited amount of jurisdiction in terms of law, but they do handle virtually all cases related to the family unit. Cases frequently tried in family court include:

  • Divorce
  • Guardianship
  • Domestic violence
  • Child custody
  • Parental competence

Family courts most often handle child custody and divorce cases. Depending on the nature of the situation, some cases may be tried in formal proceedings instead of courtrooms.

In family court, attorneys, social workers, and members of the community may participate along with the family members involved. The court strives to resolve differences, and in many situations, mediation will be utilized instead of litigation. Family courts are also instrumental in providing families with the resources they need to solve their problems.

Juvenile Court

Unlike family court, juvenile court deals primarily with minors who have been accused of engaging in criminal behavior. Juvenile courts, unlike adult criminal courts, only utilize civil proceedings. This means that instead of an actual crime, juveniles can only be charged with delinquent acts. Juveniles who are accused of crimes are brought into court when a probation officer or prosecutor files a civil claim. Juvenile courts strive to act in the best interest of the minors they are entrusted with.

In general, any individual under the age of 18 may be tried in juvenile court. Periodically, juveniles accused of serious crimes may be tried in adult courts. However, the vast majority of juvenile cases involve petty crimes such as theft, disorderly conduct, drug abuse, and simple assault. Juvenile court is usually less formal than adult criminal court.

Differences between adult and juvenile criminal court:

1. COMPLAINT VS. PETITION

In adult court the defendant is charged by using a document called a “complaint”, whereas in juvenile court, the child is charged with a document called a “Petition”

2. NO JURIES

In most jurisdictions, including Minnesota, when juvenile cases go to trial, the child is not afforded a jury trial like in adult court. Rather, one judge is the finder of fact at a trial. While difference makes for shorter trials since the lawyers do not have to spend days picking a jury, the juvenile and his/her lawyer do not get the benefit of multiple finders of fact. The child is still considered innocent until proven guilty, the prosecutor only has to convince one person of guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, verses an entire jury.

3. CONVICTION VS. ADJUDICATED DELINQUENT

In adult court if the defendant is found guilty, they are “convicted”, whereas in juvenile court the child is “adjudicated delinquent”.

4. SENTENCE VS. DISPOSITION

After a defendant is found guilty in a criminal case he/she will have a sentencing to determine punishment, whereas in juvenile court there is a “disposition” to determine what should happen to the juvenile.

5. WHERE THE “DISPOSITION” IS HELD

In adult court the defendant has all of his/her hearings in the county in which they have been charged, which is generally the county in which the offense took place. In juvenile cases, the case is charged in the county where the offense took place and that is where the case will be tried or a plea of guilty will be entered. However, if the child resides in a different county then the “disposition” of the case is generally moved to the county of residence.

6. REHABILITATION VS. PUNISHMENT

The system in juvenile court is much more focused on the best interests of the child, and trying to make sure they are rehabilitated prior to becoming an adult. There is much more emphasis on treatment, therapy, and education rather than just punishment.

Probate  Court And Dependency Court Termination Of Parental Rights:

Parental rights may be terminated where:

  • 1 or both parents do not have legal custody
  • Child out of parent’s custody for 2 years
  • Child would benefit from adoption by guardian
  • The “unfitness” standard is falling out of favor with the courts and is being replaced with the “best interests of the child” standard under the Family Code.
  • Recent case has held that only some showing of unfitness is necessary and that can be a PAST unfitness.  Held unfitness is not as appropriate test  “best interests of the child” because “unfitness”
  • Does not account for child’s interest in stability and permanency
  • Does not account for guardian’s substantial interest
  • Due process requires a finding of unfitness and DETRIMENT (in both Probate and Juvenile courts) by clear and convincing evidence before parental rights may be terminated.
  • At the Juvenile Court’s dispositional hearing, a finding that there exists a SUBSTANTIAL danger to the children unless removed from offending parent – is a finding of DETRIMENT.
  • Thus, a non-offending parent who has never been found to be unfit by the Ct may NOT have his/her parental rights terminated in Dependency Proceedings.  Example:  Father who was homeless and so didn’t ask for child, was not unfit nor was he a detriment to the child.

What are Some Methods Of Rehabilitating Juvenile Offenders?

Juveniles may be detained in a juvenile facility as part of the disposition of their case. They may also be required to perform community service and complete parole.

The focus with juveniles is to rehabilitate them and reintegrate them into their communities in a positive way.  Families are involved in a juvenile’s case. Parents may be required to make restitution, or pay fines, for their child’s offenses.

Under the CYPA, the Youth Courts essentially deal with three types of cases:

  • Cases involving youths who commit offences (Youth Arrest cases);
  • Cases involving youths who are in need of guidance (Family Guidance cases); and
  • Cases involving the protection of children (Child Protection cases).

Under the framework of the Youth Courts, court processes have been strengthened and new and better practices have been put in place to provide for more effective early intervention measures for these cases.

You Would Be Surprised At How Important Family Law Attorney

Things to Tell (or Not Tell) Your Divorce Lawyer

Divorce clients worry about whether they should tell their attorney everything or keep some facts secret.

It’s difficult to be totally honest because the issues are personal and can be embarrassing. Even when you know conversations with your attorney are confidential, some things make you feel ashamed so you are reluctant to be totally open about them. For example, suppose you have slapped or spanked your child or you are having an affair. You may be tempted to omit these details–but that’s dangerous because if your attorney doesn’t know about the potential problem, it may damage your case.

1. Disclose All Relevant Information.

It’s important to share all relevant facts with your divorce attorney so he or she can prepare for and deal with potential problems. Even if you think a particular fact is irrelevant to your divorce, make certain to mention it to your attorney so he or she can decide whether the item could create a problem down the road. You don’t need to tell your attorney everything about your marriage and children, but make certain to share all items relevant to the issues of your case. If you are in doubt about what your attorney needs to know, get guidance on what’s relevant.

2. Provide a Written History of Your Marriage.

It’s helpful for your attorney to have a written statement outlining the important facts in your marriage, including how you met your spouse, when you married, the names and ages of your children, your education, where you work, critical events in your marriage, what you think caused the divorce, and who wants the divorce. A good way to organize the history is chronologically from when you met your spouse. Put together a time line of important dates. Also, list the major assets you and your spouse own and any property that one of you claims is separate.

3. Share Sensitive Information.

You probably don’t want to tell your attorney you are having an affair or physically abusing your spouse or children, but it’s critical that your attorney knows about these difficult facts so he or she can be properly prepared to defend you if they come up in the course of your divorce. During the discovery process, if you opt for a litigated divorce, these facts are likely to come up and in a collaborative divorce, you are obligated to share all relevant information with the other side. Some attorney use investigators to search for damaging facts, and if there is a suspicion of an affair, an investigator is likely to be involved. If you are in an abusive relationship, make certain you tell your lawyer, even if you are ashamed of it. Also, if you have contracted a sexually transmitted disease or have hidden assets or debts, tell your lawyer.

4. Issues to Discuss.

There are a number of important issues you will need to discuss with your attorney during the first meeting, including child custody, child support, spousal support, division of the marital estate, any separate property claims, community debts, and your expectations about the likely outcome of the case. You will want to discuss sole or joint custody of the children, standard visitation or shared custody of your children, who is likely to be responsible for paying child support, how much that might be, whether your spouse is eligible for spousal maintenance, and the division of your community estate. Make certain you share with your attorney any facts that might favor you getting a larger share of the community estate, such as higher income earned by your spouse, health issues, disability, separate property of both spouses, and whether there has been spousal abuse.

5. Things Not to Say.

Finally, there are some things you should not say to your prospective attorney, such as “I don’t care about costs because I want to punish my spouse, I want to bring a friend with me to our meeting, I need to get this over with as soon as possible because I want to remarry, or I will never pay child support to my ex-spouse.”

Telling a lawyer you don’t care about costs may double your attorney’s fees. Bringing a friend to the meetings with your attorney may destroy attorney-client privilege. Being in a hurry will put you at a disadvantage and may increase the cost of your divorce. Never say never, because you will likely have to change your mind during the course of the divorce process. Finally, make certain you are clear about attorney fees, who will manage your divorce, and if you understand what your attorney has told you.

In a Divorce, Who Gets the 401k?

A divorce settlement can be excruciating. It is not always patient; it is not always kind. It can be rude. Self-seeking. Easily angered. And if you’ve developed a comfortable nest of 401k funds, you may find these benefits at the center of your divorce settlement maelstrom.

“I’ve seen 401k participants who’ve been abandoned by their spouses. Participants who’ve been left with kids to support and a household to run,” says Ted Benna. “I’ve also seen participants with huge account balances doing irrational things – like forbidding plan administrators to work with their spouse’s divorce lawyers – all in an attempt to keep their spouses from getting any of the retirement benefits.”

Your desire to protect your funds may be self-seeking. Or it may be a matter of survival. But either way, your spouse has the legal grounds to claim all or part of your 401k benefits in a divorce settlement. And in most cases, you’ll have to find a way to make a fair and equitable split of the funds. By being organized, prepared and knowledgeable about your legal options and rights, you can split your 401k reasonably.

How to Find the Best Divorce Attorney

It’s not easy to maintain a positive attitude at work when your marriage is heading for a divorce. The right solution is to get a lawyer to handle your case as quickly as possible.

Here are ten tips to help you find the best divorce attorney:

1. Ask Your Friends and Family

Ask your friends and family if they know a professional divorce attorney. Make sure to find an attorney who specializes in divorce cases and family law.

2. Understand What You Want to Get from the Divorce

As tough as the divorce may be, you must still ensure you get what you want from it. For example, you can push for sole parental rights. Your attorney can use a child support calculator to get you the right amount from your former spouse.

3. Consult the Local Bar Association

The local bar association has a list of the top attorneys in your area. Consult with them and get a list of names. Do some research on the attorneys you find, and see if any of them offer free consultations.

4. Search Online

Thanks to the internet, you can get all the information you need about legal experts in your area. There’ll be reviews posted online about each of those attorneys as well. Reading these reviews helps you choose the right attorney.

5. Consider Your Budget

Legal fees can go very high if you are dealing with one of the best legal firms. As such, consider your budget first. Then, look for attorneys who are within your price range.

If asking whether a lawyer is male or female is not the right question to ask, what is? These three questions:

Who a Lawyer Is

The question of “who a lawyer is” encompasses a lot, and it is probably the single most important question to ask yourself about any lawyer before you hire them. Who is this person? What is his/her reputation? How does s/he operate? Is this person fair? Is s/he honest? Is s/he experienced? Does this lawyer know the law, the court system, and the judges?

All of these questions are designed to provide you with the information you need to answer the one question that matters the most to you: Can this lawyer competently represent you and help you achieve your goals in your case? If not, then it doesn’t matter whether the lawyer is male or female. That lawyer is not right for you.

Does the Lawyer Have Time for You?

You can have the best divorce lawyer in the country, but if that lawyer does not have the time to devote to your case, you are not going to be happy with the result. If your lawyer is part of a big law firm that has dozens of junior associates ready to handle your case, that’s fine. That means your case will not be neglected. (… at least in theory). But it doesn’t mean that you will get the attention you wanted from the lawyer you actually hired.

Solo lawyers are not necessarily better. They can be. At least, when you hire a sole practitioner you know which lawyer is going to be handling your case. But if your solo lawyer gets buried in other work, your case might take longer to resolve than you thought.

What Kind of Divorce Process Does The Lawyer Use the Most?

There are at least four different divorce processes that are commonly used in this country: litigation, negotiation, mediation and collaborative divorce. If you want to mediate your case, but you hire an ace litigator to represent you, your mediation has a greater chance of failing than it would have had if you had hired an attorney who was mediation friendly. If you hire a lawyer who is skilled at negotiation, but lousy in a courtroom, and you end up going to trial, you are going to get screwed. You have to hire the right lawyer for the divorce process you use.

THINGS TO BRING TO YOUR INITIAL CONSULTATION WITH A DIVORCE LAWYER

Most attorneys that practice divorce law offer a free initial consultation where you can schedule a time to meet in person with the lawyer.  The guide provides you with advice on how to prepare for an efficient and effective consultation.  While most divorce attorneys in Irvine and elsewhere in Orange County don’t specifically provide direct legal advice during this first meeting, having the right information will not only provide for an effective first meeting, it will show the attorney that you will be a well-prepared client.  Let’s get to the list.

1. PREPARE YOUR SCHEDULE OF ASSETS AND DEBTS

The Schedule of Assets and Debts is one of the most important documents in any California divorce case.  Every party in every divorce case in California has to complete this form before their dissolution of marriage will be granted by the court.  You may as well start now and get this document completed, which will be extremely helpful for the attorney during your initial consultation.  Here are answers to frequently asked questions about the Declaration of Disclosure, which consists of the Schedule of Assets & Debts.  As the name announces, the Sched. of Assets and Debts lists out all the community and separate property assets, debts, and includes supporting documentation.

2. PREPARE YOUR INCOME AND EXPENSE DECLARATION

The Income and Expense Declaration is the other document included in the Declaration of Disclosure.  The IED includes the party’s income, expenses, and must include recent pay stubs of the person filling out the form.

3. PREPARE A LIST OF QUESTIONS YOU WANT TO ASK THE DIVORCE LAWYER

Having a bullet-point list of questions ready to ask is imperative to managing your time with the attorney and getting the information you need.

4. TAX RETURNS

Bring at least the most recent tax return filed by you and your spouse, if you file a joint return.  If you file separate returns, try and bring your spouse’s latest tax return as well.  If you can bring the last two years’ tax returns that would be greatly beneficial.

5. SELF-EMPLOYMENT DOCUMENTS

If you or your spouse are self-employed, bring as many documents as you can regarding the business operations, income and expenses.  Bring a current profit and loss statement, balance sheet and any other relevant current documents.  Be sure to bring the last year’s Schedule A tax return document.  For more information about

Dog Bite Injuries And Dog Bite Lawyers

How to Choose a Dog Bite Lawyer

Works on a Contingency Basis

After you’ve narrowed down your options to a handful of lawyers, you should look at how they charge their clients. Most quality dog bite attorneys work on a contingency basis. They start with a free consultation, and during that meeting, they give you a sense of how your case is likely to progress. If your case is strong, the lawyer typically agrees to work on a contingency basis, which means there’s no charge to you unless there is a recovery.

Well-Rated by Professional Organizations

There are a lot of lawyers out there, and to ensure you’re hiring the best dog bite attorney, you should look for lawyers who are involved with professional groups and who receive high ratings from third-party organizations. Ideally, the lawyer you hire should be part of the state bar association and county bar associations. They should also be members of state organizations such as the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys and federal groups such as the American Association for Justice.

Experienced with Dog Bite Cases

In addition to ensuring your lawyer has experience in your state, you should also ensure that they are experienced with dog bite cases in particular. Armed with experience, a lawyer knows how to fight common defenses from the dog owner’s attorneys. They also have a network of quality expert witnesses they can call on, and those witnesses can be essential for linking your injuries to the dog attack and for establishing the pain and suffering you’re likely to experience due to certain injuries.

Choosing the Right Lawyer After a Dog Bite or Animal Attack

The Right Animal Attack Attorney Can Help

Dog bites can cause serious injuries, including compound fractures, facial lacerations and puncture wounds, internal injuries, nerve damage, scarring and disfigurement, rabies, and emotional trauma. Victims sometimes come away from a vicious animal attack with permanent physical disabilities as well as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, or a lifelong fear of dogs or open places. Death from an animal attack is a very real possibility as well, especially when the victim is a small child.

Dog Bite Laws Vary from State to State

Some states follow a basic negligence standard, holding dog owners liable when their negligent behavior allows their dog to bite to another. Other states have adopted a strict liability standard, holding owners liable any time their pet bites another person, without any consideration of negligence and regardless of whether the owner was exercising care in keeping or handling the animal at the time or not. Still another popular approach only holds owners liable if they previously knew that their animal had a dangerous or vicious propensity to bite or attack. This doctrine is often called the “one free bite” rule, because an owner may not be liable the first time their animal attacks a person, but after that incident they are on notice and responsible for future attacks.

How To Choose a Dog Bite Attorney That Is Right for You

  • Choose a dog bite lawyer with a history of success. Look on the attorney’s website for past case results. Also check to see how long the attorney has been handling dog bite cases at his firm.
  • Choose a dog bite lawyer who has happy clients. Many quality lawyer web pages will have a page for past client testimonials and law firm reviews. See what other dog bite victims had to say about their experience with their lawyer.
  • Choose a dog bite lawyer who knows the state laws. The more experience your attorney has and the longer they have worked in the state, the more familiar they will be with the specific dog bite laws.
  • Choose a dog bite lawyer that you are comfortable working with. Some people want a more personable attorney, while others might want an aggressive lawyer, and others might want an exceptionally available attorney. Pick the person who you feel most comfortable working with.

Choosing a Dog Bite Attorney

A dog bite or attack can be a dramatic experience and can develop into a serious situation. Some victims require immediate medical attention and even multiple surgeries. An animal attack can result in time away from work and permanent injuries. This can turn into financial trouble that you aren’t prepared to handle.

In the state of Connecticut, if you are bitten by a dog then the owner of that dog is liable for your injuries. Victims’ injuries should be covered by the dog owner’s homeowners or renters insurance. You will often want an experienced Connecticut dog bite attorney on your side, who is familiar with the laws in New Haven and the entire state.

Choosing the right dog bite attorneys to represent you is critical to recovering compensation. You want to make sure you are choosing the right attorney for your case.

HOW TO CHOOSE A DEDICATED AND EXPERIENCED DOG BITE ATTORNEY

Call for a Consultation

The single most effective way to choose a lawyer you will feel comfortable hiring is through a consultation. This is your chance to sit down with the attorney face to face, ask questions, get feedback and make important decisions about the direction of your case. You should come out of this meeting with a good idea of whether or not to hire a particular lawyer.

Consider Access to Resources

When hiring a dog bite lawyer, you are in actuality hiring a whole team of people who will be contributing to your case. This group may be comprised of a lead attorney, a paralegal who does all the research, and investigators who will help collect evidence for your case. If you ever wonder if you should handle the case on your own, just remember that it takes an entire team of experts to successfully handle your case. Your lawyer brings many years of experience to the table and can move the process along seamlessly. You can seriously compromise the stability of your case if you decide to proceed on your own.

Look at Experience

It’s not enough to hire a great personal injury lawyer. There are several subsets of personal injury law. An attorney known for auto accident injury law may not be the best fit for your dog bite case. Look for those who focus on dog bites for the best chance of a successful outcome. Targeted expertise: this is what you want when selecting dog bite attorneys. They know the effects of dog bite injuries, the associated costs, and the ongoing medical needs these types of injuries present.