A lot of times people call Fiskum Law, P.A., to ask whether they “need” a lawyer for their divorce proceeding. My answer is usually “yes, you probably need a lawyer.” That’s different than saying that you can afford to hire a lawyer. I am not your banker and I do not know the answer to this question. Only you can make this call.
I am attorney Dan Fiskum. When you get divorced, I am concerned about creating a bright future for you, and not just resolving your past problems with your spouse.
Here are some times when you really do need me:
1. Your spouse has hired a lawyer. If your spouse has hired a lawyer, you need one too. Your spouse’s lawyer will NOT work for you. In fact, in order to prove to your spouse how important it was to hire a lawyer, that lawyer is probably going to take advantage of your ignorance of the law. I do not let opposing attorneys take advantage of my clients.
2. You have a contested custody case. A contested custody case is mostly about perceptions. Think about it. Does the judge really get to know you? Does the judge go out to McDonald’s with you and the kids in order to see first hand just what a wonderful parent you are? No. At a temporary relief hearing you will spend 10 minutes standing in front of the judge, who may or may not have read the paperwork first. What you say, how you comport yourself, and what you do not say, is all very important. If you have never done this before, you need my help.
3. You have a case that involves payment of spousal maintenance. If spousal maintenance is at issue, you need a lawyer. Many people make the mistake of thinking of spousal maintenance in terms of the amount of the monthly payment. People make this same mistake when shopping for an automobile. Instead, do the math. For example, a spousal maintenance payment of $2,000 per month equals an obligation of $24,000 per year. Multiply that amount by ten years of payments, and you are looking at a total payment of $240,000, which is almost a quarter of a million dollars. If you were involved in a lawsuit that was worth a quarter of a million dollars, wouldn’t you hire a lawyer?
4. Your spouse has accused you of domestic abuse. This is a big one. Do not try to handle this on your own, because you will most likely botch it. If a court finds that you have committed domestic abuse, in today’s political climate this could interfere with your job, your future job, your future relationships, your right to own firearms for hunting, and all sorts of things. (Yes – you heard me right. If you are a sport hunter and a court finds you have committed domestic abuse, you cannot own firearms and you will not hunt again for a long, long time, if ever.)
5. Your spouse wants you to assume all of the debt. There many pitfalls when dealing with marital debt. A lot of self-represented people agree to assume marital debt, believing that they will discharge this later in bankruptcy. Of course, if they had competent attorneys, they would have been told that the law does not allow this, and that if they agreed to pay marital debt, or were ordered to pay it, it is NOT dischargable in bankruptcy and that debt is going to stay with them. Think about it. After your divorce, you have remarried and your new spouse wants to take a winter vacation to Mexico. You say “Sorry honey. I’ll be paying my ex-spouse’s bills for the next 20 years. Let’s schedule our first vacation for sometime in the year 2034.
There are many other reasons to hire a skilled and experienced attorney. I have been practicing divorce and family law in Minnesota since I graduated from the University of Minnesota School of Law in 1992. I have been named a “Super Lawyer.” I am a member of the American Bar Association and the Minnesota State Bar Association. I enjoy helping people and I will help you. Call me now at (952) 270-7700.
Fiskum Law Office, P.A., and Minnetonka Family Law, P.A., is located near the Ridgedale Shopping Center in the Carlson Office Towers, at the intersection of I 494 and I 394, in Minnetonka, Minnesota.