January 9, 2006

What to Expect from a Family Law Attorney

Many single parents will need the services of a family law attorney at some point. Separation, divorce, death of a partner, modifying a visitation agreement or child support order are just a few of the times to seek out a family law attorney. However, many of us have little experience with attorneys. The following will give you some general information on how to select and what to expect from a family law attorney.

Where Do I Find an Attorney?

  1. The phone book – Look under the Family Law section in the yellow pages. Here you will find a wide selection of attorneys. There are attorneys who specialize in the representation of men or the representation of women. Some attorneys specialize in a particular component of family law, for instance custody. There are attorneys that are Christian focused, and some that offer payment plans. Many offices will give you a free phone consultation.
  2. The library – Ask to see the Martindale & Hubbell Law Directory. This directory lists most lawyers and areas of practices within the United States.
  3. State or Local Bar Association – Most operate a Lawyer Referral Service. After asking you to briefly describe the facts of your case, they will refer you to attorneys in your area. Tell the attorney you were referred from the State Bar’s Lawyer Referral Service and you will often get a half-hour consultation at no charge. The referral service does not give legal advice.
  4. Network – Ask friends, family, and co-workers for names of attorneys they would recommend. Ask friends who have gone through a divorce if their attorney did a good job and if they would hire him/her again.
  5. Legal Aid Offices – If lack of money is a problem call your local legal aid office to determine if you qualify for representation. Your income has to be below a certain point to qualify for most services. Legal aid organizations often have restrictions on case acceptance. For instance, they may only take domestic violence cases. If they are not accepting your type of case ask them to refer you to pro bono attorney programs. These are local attorneys who have agreed to provide free legal representation to eligible persons, usually lower income. Like legal aid, some have restrictions on case acceptance.

Shop around for an attorney just as you would a doctor. You want them to be knowledgeable in family law but you also want to feel comfortable working with them. Some things to consider besides their expertise in family law:

-Do they have weekend or evening appointments? This is important when you work full-time.

-Are their offices fairly close to where you live or work? Single parent time is stretched to the limit. You want one located in a convenient location.

The Initial Consultation:

Many attorneys offer a free initial consultation. This is usually half-hour to listen to an overview of your case and give you options on how to proceed.

-Create a “cheat sheet” – Write down the main facts of your case and put them in chronological order. Also, list the questions you have about your case. Bring it to your initial consultation. Refer to your sheet when speaking with the attorney. It will ensure that you don’t forget to tell the attorney something important.

-Some Questions to Ask in the Initial Consultation:

How long have you practiced family law?

Do you have experience dealing with cases similar to mine?

If all goes well, how long will it take for my case to be resolved?

What should I expect?

What will be happening step-by-step?

How can I be sure I get my child support, visitation, etc?

What are the best case and worst case scenarios in regards to the outcome of my case?

How much will this cost?

How do you bill?

How Do Attorney’s Charge?

Some attorney’s charge by the hour and some will charge you one lump sum when your case is completed. Some of the common ways lawyers bill for their services:

Retainer Fee: advance payment to the lawyer for a portion of their fee.

Contingency Fee: an agreed upon percentage of any money obtained through settlement, trial or negotiation.

Hourly Fee: the lawyer’s hourly rate. They will take their hourly rate and multiply the number of hours worked on your case.

Fixed Fee: a specific amount of money charged for a specific service. Cost advance: reoccurring advance payment for on-going expenses related to the case.

Mixed fee: A combination of contingency and hourly fees.

How Will the Attorney Bill Me?

If the attorney charges an hourly fee ask how often they bill. A monthly invoice is common. Ask for a detailed monthly billing statement that specifies what services the attorney provided and how much time they spent on each service. Do not accept a bill that says: ” service rendered.” This doesn’t tell you what you are being charged for. Be assertive. If you don’t understand your bill ask the attorney to explain If the attorney charges a fixed fee ask if they have payment plans. Paying a little each month is easier to budget than paying one lump sum.

Hiring the Attorney:

When you decide to hire an attorney you will sign a retainer agreement. This is a document that states what services the attorney will perform and what the fees for the service will be.

If you accept the fees and understand the services to be performed then, and only then, should you sign the retainer. Find out if the quoted fee includes court costs, copying costs, and filing fees or if these services will be extra charges.

Do not sign the retainer unless you understand all the terms of the agreement!

After You Have Hired the Attorney:

-Be prepared and organized for each appointment.

-Obtain the documentation your attorney has asked for.

-Put in writing what you want out of the case. For instance, what property you want, how much child support, etc. Give this to your attorney. Ask what problems you face in getting what you want.

-Create a folder labeled “Attorney”. Keep all correspondence and documentation relating to your case in the file so it will be easily accessible.

-Write down what you want to ask your attorney before you call him. This will ensure you don’t forget anything. It will also help you stay on track since most attorneys will charge for time spent on the phone.

-Listen carefully to what the attorney says and make notes if necessary so you can review them later.

Hint: Remember, your attorney is not your therapist. Don’t pour your heart out to him about your personal problems each time you meet. He is only interested in the facts of the case – besides he will probably charge you for listening.

Selecting and hiring an attorney is an important decision. You should research your selections carefully. He should be receptive to your questions and keep you informed about each step in the proceedings. If you do not feel that your attorney is representing you in the best possible manner than dismiss his services and find another attorney. Remember, the attorney works for you!


The information is free to reprint in any format provided the information at the bottom, including this, remains intact. Reprinted from Single Parent Central, www.singleparentcentral.com, which offers information and resources to single parent families. ©2000 SingleParentCentral.com

January 1, 2006

First Aid Tips

When someone is injured or suddenly becomes ill, there is usually a critical period before you can get medical treatment and it is this period that is of the utmost importance to the victim. What you do, or what you don’t do, in that interval can mean the difference between life and death. You owe it to yourself, your family and your neighbors to know and to understand procedures that you can apply quickly and intelligently in an emergency.

Every household should have some type of first aid kit, and if you do not already have one, assemble your supplies now. Tailor the contents to fit your family’s particular needs. Don’t add first aid supplies to the jumble of toothpaste and cosmetics in the medicine cabinet. Instead, assenble them in a suitable, labeled box (such as a fishing tackle box or small tool chest with hinged cover), so that everything will be handy when needed. Label everything in the kit clearly, and indicate what it is used for.

Be sure not to lock the box – otherwise you may be hunting for the key when that emergency occurs. Place the box on a shelf beyond the reach of small children, and check it periodically and always restock items as soon as they are used up.

Keep all medications, including non-prescription drugs such as aspirin, out of reach of children. When discarding drugs, be sure to dispose of them where they cannot be retrieved by children or pets.

When an emergency occurs, make sure the injured victim’s airway is not blocked by the tongue and that the mouth is free of any secretions and foreign objects. It is extremely important that the person is breathing freely. And if not, you need to administer artificial respiration promptly.

See that the victim has a pulse and good blood circulation as you check for signs of bleeding. Act fast if the victim is bleeding severely or if he/she has swallowed poison or if his/her heart or breathing has stopped. Remember every second counts.

Although most injured persons can be safely moved, it is vitally important not to move a person with serious neck or back injuries unless you have to save him/her from further danger. Keep the patient lying down and quiet. If he/she has vomited and there is no danger that his/her neck is broken, turn him/her on his/her side to prevent choking and keep him/her warn by covering him/her with blankets or coats.

Have someone call for medical assistance while you apply first aid. The person who summons help should explain the nature of the emergency and ask what should be done pending the arrival of the ambulance. Reassure the victim, and try to remain calm yourself. Your calmness can allay the fear and panic of the patient.

Don’t give fluids to an unconscious or semi conscious person; fluids may enter his/her windpipe and cause suffocation. Don’t try to arouse an unconscious person by slapping or shaking.

Look for an emergency medical identification card or an emblematic device that the victim may be wearing to alert you to any health problems, allergies or diseases that may require special care.


Brought to you by World Wide Information Outlet (WWIO) your source of FREEWare Content online. Located on the Internet at: http://certificate.net/wwio/

Babies CPR

By Dave Burns

As some of you may have noticed, Babies are not built to the same specifications as adults and children. To begin with, they are a lot softer, and they seem to have no necks! This makes the ABC of resuscitation slightly different.

To begin with, lay the infant on a hard surface that is within your reach. The floor is a long way down. Use a table, or sideboard. Open the airway by tilting the head very slightly back, not as far as you would with an adult. Check the breathing in the normal way, but be aware that a baby breathes faster than an adult or child, and you may not see chest movement.

Hopefully the baby is breathing, if so, instead of laying them down in the recovery position as you would for an adult or child, Pick them up and hold them, with the head slightly lower than the rest of the body, and the back to your chest.

If there is no breathing present, you need to give some air. Cover both nose and mouth with your mouth and give a small puff. (Imagine blowing out a candle). Do this 5 times, not 2 as with adults. Now check for signs of pulse.

Being smaller and softer, using the pulse in the neck can do damage to a baby, Therefore we check the pulse in the upper arm. Place the flat of 3 fingers on the inside of the upper arm, and the thumb on the outside. Using a light pressure you should then feel the brachial pulse. Is there a pulse present? Is it more than 60 per min? If yes, carry on giving air and get help fast. If the pulse is less than 60, assume no pulse and give chest compressions. Again, there is a difference here. First, the pressure point is about one finger below the nipple line. Just use 2 fingers, and depress the chest about 1/3rd of the chest depth five times then give one breath and continue at 5 compressions to one breath. (This must be on a firm surface or the pressure will not go where needed). The chances of resuscitating a baby successfully are higher than that of an adult, if you do not panic!

For more information, Call your local Red Cross and ask about training. You will be surprised at how cheap and easy it is to learn how to save lives.


I am a Trainer with the British Red Cross. I am currently based at Shrewsbury, Shropshire in the UK. And have been training now for 7 years. Most of the time is fun, but as any trainer will tell you, it all depends on your class. There is always one that knows it all, and one who just cannot grasp what you are saying. I think that a trainer always needs to keep on top of what is happening, and adapt their courses to the students needs. It is also good to meet and chat to other trainers to get new ideas and perspectives. This is the reason for this area. Your ideas and comments would be most welcome. Email me at dave@burns.enta.net or visit http://www.burns.enta.net DISCLAIMER: First aid is not a subject that can be learned from books or articles. To become a true first aider you need to undertake proper training that will give you the opportunity to practice in a safe and controlled environment. Neither I as the author or the World Wide Information Outlet can or will be held responsible for anything that happens as a result of this article. Having said that, when a life is at stake, you should at least try. Under the ‘good samaritan’ law, provided your intention was to do good, nobody can touch you for it! Brought to you by World Wide Information Outlet (WWIO) your source of FREEWare Content online. Located on the Internet at: http://certificate.net/wwio/