Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Attorney I consulted has over 30 years experience - he MUST be good, right?

Don't be fooled by the mere fact that the attorney you consult has gray hair on his/her head.  Experience is but one factor you should consider in choosing an attorney.

Please consider the following example.  I took over a case in which a client hired a Manhattan attorney with over 40 years experience to handle his divorce case.  I certainly admit to not having knowledge of the back-and-forth negotiations, but I can only assess the end result - the settlement agreement.

In the settlement agreement, my client was required to pay 2/3 of the cost of unreimbursed health care, child care & educational costs.  Pro rata division of these costs is relatively standard.

But here's where the problems came in.  First, there was no termination clause for the child care.  Conceivably, he could be required to pay for a babysitter for a 14, 15, or 16-year old.  Ouch!

Second, the agreement went on to provide that, in addition to paying basic support, as well as the aforementioned "add-on" expenses, he was also required to pay 2/3 of the cost of all extracurricular activities and "expenses" of the child.

The mother could conceivably argue that items such as food, clothing & related expenses are now an "add-on" to the basic child support.  Either the attorney didn't know what he was doing, feel asleep at the switch, or screwed his own client.

Either way, the lesson here is that one needs to be careful in merely assuming gray hair means "that's the attorney for me!"

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