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August 01, 2020 From the Editor in Chief

From the Editor In Chief

Kathleen A. Hogan

Divorce, child custody disputes, alimony, and child support matters are stressful; the associated legal fees only add to the stress. Most people begin the process with lots of questions and worries. They can face those worries without really understanding what choices they may have. Fortunately, there are many steps that clients can take to strategically weigh the pros and cons of the many financial choices to be made in a family law proceeding, and mitigate the financial burden while still benefiting from effective legal representation. This manual contains an array of proactive steps you can take and considerations to be made during your family law case.

Clients have a right to know how they will be charged, and clients should be forthright in asking lawyers how they charge and when bills will be sent, says attorney Mark Chinn in his article, “Capturing Legal Costs and Containing the Bill.” Mark lists important questions you should ask when entering into an attorney-client relationship.

When clients can’t afford an attorney, they may choose to self-represent. This is a risky move, as the judge interviewed in Dean Christoffel’s “People Who Self-Represent—A Judicial View” explains. The judge offers alternatives to self-representation from free legal clinics and legal aid programs to a relatively new middle road—unbundled legal services structured like a menu with a flat rate—a more affordable alternative that provides services a person absolutely needs but can still afford. Check whether unbundled services are offered in your state.

In “Choosing Your Approach to Resolution,” Rochelle Grossman lays out the less intimidating, less expensive, and less time-consuming dispute-resolution options that are becoming increasingly popular alternatives to costly litigation in family law matters.

“Important Financial Planning Considerations in Divorce” by Marty Babitz illustrates how the right team of advisors can help give you the confidence to make the best financial decisions for yourself and your family during a divorce.

These financial choices include employment choices, selection of health insurance, social security, retirement and alimony considerations, and divorce-related taxes, all addressed in this handbook. Health Insurance considerations are addressed by Tiffany Alexander. Kathleen B. Vetrano and Lydia S. Terrill address social security, and Brittany Ranson Stonestreet and Andrea Cozza discuss alimony. Strategic considerations regarding employment are addressed by Meredith Laughridge Cross, and Mark Ashton has provided an article regarding tax issues, while Daniel B. Finch and David E. Holm discuss retirement issues.

Finally, this handbook offers resources and information about accessing courts in “Persevering in the Pandemic: Texas Courts” by Justice Debra H. Lehrmann of the Texas Supreme Court and “COVID-19: Key Considerations in Divorce and Related Support Obligations” by Gia M. Conti, as well as resources and updates from the ABA Coronavirus (COVID-19) Task Force to assist you in these unprecedented times.

You are entrusting your hard-earned dollars to your attorney and have your livelihood and that of your family to protect. Your family law attorney is there to help you make the best financial choices. The editors of the Family Advocate and our distinguished panel of contributors hope this handbook will serve as a useful starting point and ready reference guide as you navigate your family law proceeding.

The material in all ABA publications is copyrighted and may be reprinted by permission only. Request reprint permission here.

Kathleen A. Hogan

Editor in Chief

Kathleen A. Hogan is a principal with McGuane and Hogan, P.C., in Denver, Colorado, and Editor in Chief of Family Advocate.