12 STEPS OF DIVORCE: Step 1 – Serving and Filing a Petition for Dissolution

Each month for one year, the Andersen Law PC blog will spell out the 12 steps of divorce.

In doing so, we will also track two divorcing couples making their way through the process.12 Steps of Divorce - Andersen Law - January

Spoiler alert: Art and Angela Aingel take the high road. While divorce is not usually a fun process (I have yet to hear someone tell the judge at final orders, “Thank you, sir, may I have another?”), the Aingels have a relatively straightforward experience before moving forward with their separate lives. Meanwhile, Draco and Desdemona DeVille make choices that, while initially tempting, detour them down a bad road laden with unnecessary drama, painful court appearances and skyrocketing costs.

The following is a roadmap of the 12 steps of a divorce proceeding. And if you want to divorce in less than a year, feel free to call me with questions specific to your situation. I am happy to walk you through your own next steps and to answer questions in your complimentary initial phone or videoconference consult. Continue reading “12 STEPS OF DIVORCE: Step 1 – Serving and Filing a Petition for Dissolution”

What Makes a Great Attorney?

Gavel and Law Book

Being a lawyer is not just a job to me — it’s my calling. I do not take the responsibility lightly. As a client, you are coming to me for help with personal and critical events like divorce, parenting time and estate planning. These go to the heart of life: your FAMILY, FINANCES, FUTURE. That’s why it’s not enough to be a good lawyer; I strive to be a GREAT lawyer.

GUIDANCE: A good lawyer uses knowledge of the law to help make a good argument for the client. But a GREAT lawyer uses knowledge of the law and wisdom of experience to help the client realize broader goals than the case, to behave appropriately outside the courtroom and going forward. A GREAT lawyer knows legal fees, the stress of litigation and the toll on the long-term relationships are just as important as winning motions and trials.

RESPECT: A good lawyer takes the reins and says “don’t worry about it.” So you don’t until you get the bill or a shocking result.  A GREAT lawyer works collaboratively with you as a two-person team; respects your point of view; and is mindful of your financial and time restrictions.

EXCELLENCE: A good lawyer handles every case similarly based on a time-tested model. A GREAT lawyer realizes that each case is unique and may require additional research, attention or creativity above and beyond the norm. A GREAT lawyer will go the extra mile even if she can’t bill it to the client. She NEVER churns a case just to get a higher fee. She constantly studies, networks and trains to keep pace with the latest legal developments.

ATTITUDE: Many good lawyers see themselves as well educated professionals whose time is precious and who need to be feared and obeyed. A GREAT lawyer has the same education and experience, but realizes that interactions with clients need to be positive, patient and personable. A GREAT lawyer is not afraid to get creative and try things like “unbundled legal services” because they serve clients better and more affordably.

TECHNOLOGY: The legal field moves at a glacial pace when it comes to technology and other basic business developments.  Many good lawyers act as if “snail mail” and checking in with the client once a month are state of the art. GREAT lawyers use online communication, affordable research models and independent contractors to avoid excessive overhead. GREAT lawyers participate in video conferencing and regular online billing to keep you on top of your fees and case progress. GREAT lawyers text, read email, answer their cell phones after hours and act as if we live in the 21st century. You deserve it!

Though Helpful, a Mediator Does Not Replace a Lawyer in Divorce Proceedings

Mediation can be an excellent way to make progress and, ideally, resolve your divorce proceeding. In an era when the courts are overrun with divorces and have little time to address critical issues about your family and finances, mediation gives you more control over results.

However, a mediator does NOT replace an attorney.  A mediator CANNOT give legal advice or tell you whether the agreement you are signing is fair to you.

That is where a family law attorney like myself comes in to the picture. At the very least, I can review the separation and parenting time agreements before you sign them to make sure they protect your interests. In addition, I can advise you as to negotiation strategies and even participate in the mediation session to ensure you are making the correct legal arguments to optimize your results.  I also am very specific about the excellent mediators I refer for each case and client. That choice can make a huge difference and I know the mediators who will work best for you.

Mediation and legal representation can work together like hand and glove. Do not neglect mediation, but do not forget to protect yourself with a lawyer’s critical advice. Usually you cannot afford NOT to know your rights.

Unbundled Legal Services Offer a Way for Many to Hire a Divorce Attorney

When you hear the term “divorce attorney,” what comes to mind? Do you think of celebrities in the tabloids with their high-profile multi-million dollar divorces, custody battles and “conscious uncoupling”? Maybe you don’t take it quite that far, but you do think divorce attorneys are only for the wealthy. Fortunately, that is just a myth. You do not have to be rich to hire a divorce attorney.

Unbundled legal services offer a more affordable way for people to retain legal representation in a divorce. With unbundled legal services for divorce, you pay as you go and only pay for as much or as little legal assistance as you choose to use.  This model allows for a reasonable retainer as well.

For example, I can coach you through a court conference or hearing so you are well prepared to handle it on your own. I can attend a hearing and withdraw after it is complete, allowing you to follow up on your own. I can also write your pleadings for you, edit your own drafts or review pleadings served on you to devise a strategy. One of the most important things I do is to review a separation agreement and advise clients as to its legal implications, often saving them heartache, court fees and unnecessary disputes in the process.

I offer unbundled legal services in the Greater Denver areas in order to make sure my clients get the representation that best suits them, at the price point they can afford.