Imagine the following scenario. You are scheduled to have a hearing today. You are at the courthouse. You are on time. You have located the proper courtroom, and you are sitting outside of it. Your opponent is there too, and he is chatting with his lawyer. While sitting there alone the butterflies in your stomach seem to be multiplying. The question that has just popped into your head: Is my lawyer right for me? Here are three questions to ask to determine if you need a different lawyer. (To access the full blog series, click here.) (For more on how family law hearings work, click here.)
1. Where is my lawyer?
If it is time for your hearing, but you can’t find your lawyer, that’s a sign that you might need a new lawyer. If your lawyer is running late, working in another court for a different client, working in a conference room on your case with opposing counsel, or meeting with the judge in chambers, she should make you aware of what’s going on. Keeping you “in the loop” on what’s going on shows that your lawyer appreciates the stress you are under, and respects your time.
Of course a lawyer should never miss a hearing. Outside of being sick or having some emergency, your attorney should be in court with you when you have a hearing. If your attorney cannot be at your hearing, she should coordinate for a competent lawyer to stand in to make sure your case isn’t damaged by her absence.
If you feel out of the loop, or your lawyer no-shows a hearing, then consider a new lawyer.
2. Where’s my lawyer’s stuff?
Your lawyer should arrive for your hearing prepared to win for you. At Youngblood Law, PLLC, we believe being prepared to win in court means having, at a minimum, the documents and pleadings that are set to be argued before the court at that hearing and the appropriate code books to make sure we can point to the law that works in our favor.
If your lawyer shows up without the documents or code books for your case, he may not be prepared to win for you in court. Even great lawyers with every possible document and a solid grasp of the law can lose in court, but lawyers who don’t come to court armed with the pleadings and law books needed to effectively argue for you are taking a huge risk. Demand a lawyer who comes to court prepared to win.
3. What is happening? / What just happened?
Before Your Hearing
Before you show up to the courthouse you would know if the hearing is expected to be a laid back negotiation session, if it might be a full blown contested hearing requiring testimony from witnesses, or if it might be a mixture. Based on the facts of your case, the strategy of your opposing counsel, the typical style of the judge, and other factors, your lawyer should be able to predict what your hearing should look like. Explaining all this to you shows your lawyer appreciates the stress you are under, and respects your time.
After Your Hearing
Clients usually have serious questions about what just happened once a hearing is concluded. If the court made a ruling, it is crucial that you understand what that order means to you and your case. Your lawyer should stay after the hearing to make sure you know what just happened, and how it affects you. This is also when you could discuss the next step if your hearing went really badly.
If you feel “out of the loop” in your own case, consider finding a lawyer that has time to explain your case to you.
Youngblood Law, PLLC is a Fort Worth, Texas family law firm focusing on helping working people live the life they WANT to live through divorce and beyond. This essay is intended for educational use only, and is not a replacement for competent legal counsel. If you are facing a family law matter, we recommend obtaining competent legal counsel like Youngblood Law, PLLC. For more information contact us at 817-601-5345, find us on the web at www.youngblood-law.com, or on your mobile device, open your browser and type in lawfw.biz and press Go. Find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/youngbloodlawPLLC/