By Amy Wechsler
If you are contemplating divorce or separation, you may talk to friends and research on-line to get a sense of what the law provides and what other people do in similar situations. So, if the information you seek is available on the internet, why would you need a lawyer? Here are a few reasons why.
Read more by Amy Wechsler, Esq. here: https://www.theconnectionsnj.com/are-you-still-responsible-to-pay-child-support-for-your-high-school-graduate/
– Accuracy. A client told me he read that New Jersey law set a formula to determine alimony. That’s not accurate, so I questioned the source of this misinformation. He said he had read it in a highly regarded State Bar publication, but that’s not actually what the article said. It only discussed pros and cons of possible alimony guidelines, which we do not have in NJ. I was able to correct the misunderstanding and have a meaningful discussion with him about how alimony is, in fact, determined in New Jersey.
– Analysis. Cases decided by courts provide guidance, but every family is different. Lawyers are trained to draw distinctions – which is critical to good legal analysis — to show how our client’s circumstances differ from the facts reported in cases. A judicial opinion that at first appears unfavorable to our client may, in fact, be distinguishable and so it would not even apply to our case.
– Understanding Consequences. Experienced lawyers know the potential pitfalls of inadequate judicial decisions and negotiated settlements. Clients come to us months or years after divorce when they encounter unanticipated consequences of court orders or agreements. This may be due to poor drafting or failure to anticipate predictable eventualities. Lawyers can draft comprehensive and detailed agreements that address future events or changes, helping to limit later conflict.
– Negotiation. Lawyers can negotiate sensitive family issues without being caught up in the emotional dynamic of a couple. Lawyers know the risks of taking a case to trial and appreciate that the law looks at both sides of a question. Understanding risks help lawyers more effectively negotiate on behalf of clients.
– Realistic Expectations. In the midst of an upsetting situation, clients may expect or demand results out of fear, panic, or anger. They hear of other people’s experiences or surf the internet for articles that lead them to believe they can win at all costs, without realizing how devastating those costs can be. Lawyers can bring reason to the table. It is our job to explain to clients the reasonable range of likely results and how those results will affect them and their family, on both a short-term and a long-term basis. Clients who see the viability of different options are better prepared to reach practical settlements, or make reasoned decisions to take a case to trial. Lawyers can fight for the stars, but, when we do, we should make sure our clients know not to expect them.
– Support. We should never underestimate the importance of caring about clients and what happens to them in both the legal process and in the results we achieve for them. With the stress of divorce or separation, clients benefit from being treated with patience and respect. When we and our staff are professional, caring, responsive and respectful, clients are better served. They can’t get that on the internet — at least not yet.