The marriage dissolution rate has fallen steadily since the 1980s. Some experts predict that it may soon bottom out at around 33 percent. Part of that decline is due to a lower marriage rate. Many couples have fewer debts and more assets when they get married. So, the divorce rate may be lower, but the divorces themselves are more complex, especially with regard to property division.
In this economic and social environment, a prenuptial agreement is usually a good idea. Prenups eliminate money fights before they start and also make a future divorce much less emotionally taxing. They are basically whole life insurance policies which both build equity and help couples prepare for the unexpected.
Premarital agreement or not, a good Buffalo, MN divorce lawyer is essential. Without such representation, there will be no one to stand up for your legal and financial rights during a property division proceeding.
Experience in Property Division Matters
In equitable distribution states like Minnesota, property division is not simply a matter of dividing everything by two. First, Buffalo, MN divorce lawyer must distinguish marital and nonmarital property. This process is usually not easy, particularly after a lengthy marriage. Next, the property settlement must equitably divide marital property. “Equitable” is not necessarily the same thing as “equal.”
Given these complexities, your divorce is no time for on-the-job training. So, there is no substitute for experience. There are many aspects of divorce law that cannot be learned in law school.
During the attorney search process, it’s important to take a close look at experience. Years of experience often tell only part of the story. In Minnesota and other no-fault states, many divorces are not much more than paperwork. If you have a significant estate to divide, like a small business, you do not need a paper-pusher. You need a Buffalo, MN divorce lawyer who is experienced in property division matters. Do not be afraid to ask for some examples of prior cases.
A new restaurant may have five stars, but if there is a two-hour wait for a table, it’s probably better to go somewhere else. On the other end of the spectrum, if the new restaurant has no cars in the parking lot, that’s usually a bad sign.
These same issues arise with Buffalo, MN divorce lawyers. If you must wait several weeks for an appointment, that may mean the attorney is too busy to give your case the attention it deserves. That delay may also mean that an associate lawyer, or even a paralegal, might do most of the work.
Conversely, if the attorney always has time to see you and/or personally answers the phone on the first or second ring, that probably means the lawyer has few clients and few staff resources. Such lawyers can easily handle uncontested divorces, but they may not be equipped to deal with complex property divisions.
A Dedicated Buffalo, MN Divorce Lawyer
Family law is under the litigation umbrella. But divorce property division is a lot different from contract disputes and some other forms of litigation. Dedication to the craft may be key.
The late Grant Cooper, who represented Robert Kennedy assassin Sirhan Sirhan, might be a good example of a solid yet undedicated litigator. Cooper had solid credentials. In the early 1960s, he was President of the American College of Trial Lawyers. But Cooper was a celebrity lawyer and not a criminal lawyer. According to many people, he left some stones unturned during the Sirhan defense. Maybe his lack of dedication affected the outcome, and maybe it did not. However, we do know for sure that Sirhan is still in prison over fifty years later.
Additionally, a good murder defense lawyer is more than a good courtroom advocate. Such professionals must also have some forensic and investigative skills, which Cooper may have lacked. Likewise, a good Buffalo, MN divorce lawyer is not just a good courtroom advocate. These professionals must also be good negotiators. Most marriage dissolution matters settle out of court. And, in the property division context, some accounting and other skills are necessary as well.
“Divorce lawyer near me” is not just a phrase that people type into search bars. A nearby location is often a critical quality in a Buffalo, MN divorce lawyer.
The attorney-client relationship should be more than provider and customer. Attorneys and clients are more like partners. A close working relationship typically yields the best results. These relationships are difficult if the lawyer is on the other side of town.
Many Buffalo, MN divorce lawyers are mobile, so this factor is not as important as it once was. Attorneys can meet with clients in library study rooms, coffee houses, and other such places. All relevant information is probably on a laptop, so these conferences are more efficient than they were in ye olden days.
Legal fees should probably be the least important consideration in your quest for the best Buffalo, MN divorce lawyer. You are not buying a washing machine. Divorce property division is your financial future.
However, as it does in many other areas, price is usually an indication of quality. You get what you pay for, as the old saying goes. If the fees are very low, the attorney is usually understaffed and inexperienced. But there is an upper limit. Many times, extraordinarily high fees do not mean that lawyer is the best available. Those high fees just mean the lawyer thinks s/he is the best one available. There’s a big difference.
Contact a Diligent Attorney
The right legal representation might be the most important decision you make in a marriage dissolution matter. For a free consultation with an experienced Buffalo, MN divorce lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle matters in Wright County and nearby jurisdictions.