Family Matters Update
Family Law News from Kathryn Nelson
Finding the Right Match
Any parent asking the question of how to choose a family law attorney is likely dealing with a myriad of emotions and responsibilities while feeling overwhelmed by the weight of difficult decisions that need to be made. Most parents have never been involved in legal matters before and are intimidated by the costs and unknowns related to hiring a lawyer. If you find yourself in this position, be assured that finding the right attorney is not only possible but well-worth the investment.
If you are unsure where to start, a good approach is to begin with an online search. Review websites and biographies, and you might find something that stands out to you. In family law matters, you want an attorney who specializes in this area, has trial experience and possibly personal experience with the subject matter. Check your state’s bar association to make sure the attorney is in good standing. An initial phone call with their staff or paralegal may help you get a feel for each specialist you’re considering and help you narrow down your choices. Schedule an initial consultation so you can meet the attorney you are interested in.
Personality and Style
This is an area where you can listen to your instincts. Evaluate how you feel during your conversation with the attorney and make sure you’re comfortable, as you will be spending a lot of time together. While you want confident representation from someone willing to listen to you and go to battle on your behalf, you’ll also appreciate working with a professional who is likeable and engaging. Find someone whose style matches or complements your own. Your lawyer needs to be accessible and approachable, and most of all attentive. Laura Miolla, a Divorce and Parenting Coach, advises, “Make sure the lawyer you choose acts according to the professional ethics of the industry and treats you with the respect and attention you deserve.”
Ethics and Reputation
You want to know your attorney will take an ethical approach even when dealing with opposing counsel who might not do the same, as this could impact your own reputation and the results of your case. Check into your potential attorney’s credentials, including education, licensing and involvement.
Cost is often one of the first things that concerns a parent in regard to legal matters, but it should not be the primary basis for your decision about whom to hire. You do need to know if your attorney will require a retainer and what kind of hourly fee will be charged; then you can determine if you have the resources to proceed. You might be able to get an estimate for how many hours your case could take, but keep in mind that it is very hard to predict how it will play out and whether you will go to trial. You have to be realistic about the nature and complexity of your case and realize that additional fees could be required for mediation, court-appointed professionals and others involved.
Find out how long the professional has been practicing law and in what capacity. Family matters require someone with unique experience who specializes exclusively in domestic cases. While you might not think your case will end up in the courtroom, assessing your attorney’s trial experience will give you an indicator of his or her success rate with negotiating and arguing a case.
You will benefit from a lawyer who has personal and professional roots in the area, with an understanding of the local court system and connections to resources that may be needed in your case. Last but not least, many parents going through difficult family proceedings value working with someone who has walked in their shoes. An attorney who has experienced similar personal pain and practical hurdles can be more empathetic and invested in the outcome of your case.
Finding an attorney who is a good match for your needs can make all the difference when it comes to the success of your case in court and the present and long-term impact on your personal life. With the many decisions facing a parent who is considering separation or divorce, or involved in custody disputes, it pays to find a family law specialist who can walk you through the steps of your unique legal matters in a professional and understanding way.
Start the process today by setting up a consultation with Kathryn Nelson at Cox Baker & Page.
Back to School Checklist for Recently Separated or Divorced Parents
Children are often nervous about a new school year even under the best of circumstances, and the tension of divorce can make this even harder. Here are some ways parents can mitigate issues resulting from a recent or pending separation:
Prepare your child for how the separation will impact his or her schedule and other aspects of the school year (try to keep changes to a minimum).
Be available for communication and emotional support. It’s a difficult time for you, but it is even harder for your child who has no choice in the matter and who may feel angry, hurt, helpless, alone and maybe even responsible.
Make sure the school administration and your child’s new teachers know about alterations to your family’s arrangements.
If there are changes to your child’s transportation to and from school, inform the district transportation department.
Have your child’s teacher assign both parents as contacts for communication so neither parent has to deliver news to the other.
Both parents can have their own separate parent portal accounts so that they do not need to rely on the other parent for information. Also, make sure you are each on the teacher’s email list separately.
Consider using a co-parenting app such as OurFamilyWizard or TalkingParents for information pertaining to your child. This can minimize the frequency of direct contact between parents as well as alleviate miscommunication and discord.
Be aware of signs your child is not adjusting well. Speak with a guidance counselor at the school to see if there are support groups available and/or seek individual counseling to help your child navigate the disruptive transition.
When having difficulty making a co-parenting decision, use the best interests of your child as the standard. Guard your child from tension between you and the other parent.
About Kathryn Nelson
A Colorado native, Kathryn graduated Magna Cum Laude from the Honors Program at Colorado State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a minor in Spanish. In 1990, she earned her juris doctor from the University of San Diego Law School.
Kathryn began her legal career as a deputy district attorney in Orange County, California, where she remained as a prosecutor for eight years and tried over 100 cases to a jury. She had the unique opportunity to deal with numerous victims of serious crimes, specializing in domestic violence cases. She learned that she could make a positive impact by connecting with people and showing them how the law could be used to make a difference in their lives during extremely difficult and extraordinary times.
With over 28 years of legal experience - including formerly acting as Special Counsel with The Harris Law Firm before deciding to join Cox, Baker & Page, and also working on appeals for the Colorado Attorney General’s Office - Kathryn now practices exclusively family law for professional and personal reasons. As a mother of three who understands the impact of divorce first-hand, Kathryn helps clients put the pieces back together in a way that minimizes negative effects on parents and children. She is a member of the Colorado Bar Association Family Law Section, the Douglas/Elbert Bar Association, and Colorado Women’s Bar Association. Kathryn is licensed to practice law in Colorado and California.