Renton Washington Family Law Criminal Defense and Estate Planning Attorney

Serving Renton, Kent, Seattle, Bellevue, Federal Way, Burien and south King County.

Please visit our web page at for more information.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Interviewing a Washington Divorce Lawyer

Many people hire the first lawyer they meet. Others interview several lawyers before deciding which one to hire. How many you interview may depend on how much time you have, the urgency of your situation, how many lawyers there are to choose from and how quickly you find one you like.

Tell the lawyer about your situation. Take a list of your assets and debts and sources of income with you. A copy of the last several years' tax returns can also help speed the discussion and make it more meaningful. A narrative or outline of the important events in your relationship with your spouse can also be helpful.

Make a list of things you want to discuss and take it with you to the interview. Ask questions. Then ask more questions. Listen carefully to the answers and write them down. Review the answers later and think about them. Listen not only to the information the lawyer gives you, but also to the way it is presented. Think about how the lawyer related to you. While a lawyer may be appropriately optimistic about your case, do not hire a lawyer simply because that lawyer predicts a better outcome than another lawyer.

Here are some questions you might ask when interviewing a divorce lawyer:

• What is likely to happen to me?
• How much property will I get?
• How much support will I get?
• How much support will I have to pay?
• Do I have a choice of courts?
• Does it make a difference?
• Do you have associates or paralegals?
• How do you decide who does what work on my case?
• Are you reachable by phone?
• If I call and you aren't available, how is my call handled?
• How much do you charge for travel time, secretarial time, photocopies, postage, faxes, long distance calls, mobile phone calls, supplies, computer use or anything else other than your time?
• What expenses do you pay from the money I pay you and what do I have to pay directly?
• Under what circumstances would you refund all or part of my retainer fee?
• Do you have any personal feelings about the positions you would have to take if you represented me?
• How often are you out of the office in court, at conventions, on vacation, and for other things?
• How do you cover my case at those times?
• How much do you know about the judge who will decide my case if it goes to trial?
• Do you think we can work together?
• Will you be available at the times that are convenient for me?

The Renton law firm of Mogren, Glessner & Roti, represents clients in a variety of family law cases. We have 4 attorneys for you to chose from. Please visit our web page at for more information.

Friday, July 24, 2009

How to Select a Washington Divorce Lawyer

When asking for names of lawyers, when interviewing lawyers, and when deciding which lawyer to hire, different things are important to different people. For example, a person of limited means may be most concerned about cost. Another person may require experience with a certain type of family law problem. Decide what is important to you and select accordingly.

Here are some criteria to consider in choosing an attorney:

  • Cost. While local market conditions such as supply, demand and competition determine in large part what lawyers charge, there can be a significant variation in fees. Generally, better known, better established lawyers charge more. The quality of representation you get may or may not be worth the higher price they charge. There are often highly skilled and experienced lawyers available who charge less because they are not yet as well known and are therefore not in such demand. A lawyer in this category can be an excellent value.Even if cost is very important to you, it is false economy to reject a referral because you are told that a lawyer charges for a first consultation. Although some lawyers may give useful information and advice in a free consultation, there is a chance that a lawyer who is not charging for the time will treat the meeting more as a sales session and not feel obligated to deal with substantive issues. Even if your purpose is to interview the lawyer in order to help you decide whom to hire, you will not learn enough about the lawyer unless you talk about your case and hear what the lawyer really thinks about it.
  • Gender, age, race, religion, national origin. Competent lawyers come in all sizes, shapes, genders, colors, religions and ages. None of these factors has anything to do with the lawyer's ability. Irrespective of the lawyer's ability, your comfort level is important if the relationship is to work. If you are inclined to hire a lawyer that you feel a common background with, there is no reason why you shouldn't. Just be sure you are not being swayed by stereotypes.
  • Credentials. There are objective factors that may help you evaluate the lawyer's professional competence and appropriateness for your case. Although mere membership in professional organizations may not mean a lot, active participation in the work of the organization is one mark of a lawyer's involvement in the specialty. Publishing articles, books and treatises on family law and teaching other lawyers are even better indicators of experience, competence and reputation. The length of time in practice, and the amount of family law experience are also important criteria.
  • Personal compatibility. You must feel comfortable with the lawyer you hire if you are to work effectively together. If you are not comfortable with a lawyer you interview, you should probably trust your instinct and not hire that person, even if you cannot isolate the cause of your discomfort. The relationship between lawyer and client in a family law matter is especially important. You will be telling the lawyer intimate facts of your life and the lawyer may have to give you advice and information that you may not like. Be sure the lawyer is one to whom you can talk and listen.
  • Location. The location of the lawyer's office may or may not be important, depending on the circumstances. Here are some things to consider.It is a great benefit to be able to go conveniently to your lawyer's office to meet and work on your case. And if the lawyer's office is far from the courthouse, you may have to pay for the lawyer's travel time. On the other hand, lawyers sometimes represent clients who have never seen the lawyer's office, especially in large, sparsely populated areas where it is common for lawyers to travel long distances to court, to depositions, and to meetings.

The Renton law firm of Mogren, Glessner & Roti, represents clients in a variety of family law cases. We have 4 attorneys for you to chose from. Please visit our web page at for more information.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

How to Find a Washington Family Law Lawyer

Selecting a lawyer to represent you in your divorce is more than just picking a name; it means establishing a close and sensitive relationship that will continue for months and perhaps years. It is important to find and hire the person who is right for you and your case.

The first difficult issue in the process is getting the names of qualified lawyers from which to pick from. The following is a suggestion of sources to find an attorney for you.
  • From other professionals. Lawyers, accountants, psychotherapists, members of the clergy and other professionals meet and work with divorce lawyers in the course of their work and are often a good source of referrals. Ask them for the names of family law specialists with good credentials and reputations and whose qualifications are most appropriate to your case. Lawyers, in particular, are aware of the reputations of other lawyers, even those outside their specialty, so a lawyer you already know and trust can be an exceptionally good referral source. If you need a divorce lawyer outside your geographical area, divorce lawyers in your area often know who the best people are in other regions.
  • From organizations. Your state bar may have a process for identifying lawers whose practice emphasises family law, and may give you names and referrals. While having an emphasis is no absolute assurance of quality, it usually requires a certain proven level of experience, study, and interest in the field. Washington does not certified specialists in any area of the law. The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers is an organization with a rigorous screening procedure which admits only qualified specialists. The American Bar Association and most local bar associations have family law sections. Although any lawyer can join these sections with no screening or testing, lawyers who belong may have a higher level of interest and involvement in the field of family law than those who don't.
  • Referrals from other persons. You may have friends or relatives who have gone through a divorce. They are a good source of information about lawyers, with two qualifications. Every client and every case is different, so it is difficult to evaluate the performance of a lawyer in someone else's case. Also, the lawyer-client relationship is highly personal. So while the impressions of a former client about a lawyer are useful, you should meet the lawyer and make your own judgment.
The Renton law firm of Mogren, Glessner & Roti, represents clients in a variety of family law cases. Please visit our web page at for more information.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

7 Tips if You are Considering Divorce

If you are considering a divorce or legal separation, the following are some tips to consider before you take any legal steps.
  1. Copy Important Records: Make copies of important records such as tax returns with all schedules (at least three tax years), pay stubs, bank records (account statements and checking account registers), investment records, title/deeds for cars, homes, etc., and debt information such as credit card statements.

  2. Consider Your Immediate Financial Needs: It may be weeks or months before you begin to get financial assistance from your spouse. Consider how you will meet your financial needs in the interim. Make a budget and identify ways to reduce your immediate needs. Know what your debt payments are. Identify sources of emergency cash such as bank accounts, credit card cash/PLC advances, loans from family members, and loans against other assets such as IRA’s and 401(k) accounts. Be aware of any tax consequences or penalties that might be incurred if you withdraw retirement funds.

  3. Explore Your Alternatives: Will you be leaving your home or will your spouse be leaving? Who will the children live with? How will you afford new housing, including utility and rental deposits and moving costs? Do you have friends or family members with whom you can stay? Do you have suitable accommodations for overnights visits with your children?

  4. Protect Your Credit: In order to avoid liability for debts your spouse might incur without your knowledge, notify all of your creditors that you want the accounts canceled because you are separating from your spouse. You will no longer be responsible for your spouse’s future charges, however, you will still be responsible for past charges. The notification should be in writing (keep a copy).

  5. Consider What’s Best for Your Children: If you have children, think about their needs during this difficult period. Contact divorce support resources if necessary (these can be found through the child’s school, pediatrician, or community resources guides). Try to limit the amount of conflict the children are exposed to and do not involve them in the legal proceedings. If at all possible, let the children adjust to the separation before making changes to the child’s home, school, or other major support systems.

  6. Obtain Appropriate Legal Assistance: If you can afford a private attorney, plan how you will pay a fee retainer. Obtain recommendations from friends, professionals such as counselors, or community resource guides. Ask questions about the attorney’s hourly rate and fee retainer. Find out how long the attorney has been practicing family law, and what percentage of their practice is in family law. If you cannot afford to retain an attorney, identify your other options such as a volunteer ("pro bono") attorney, low-income legal resources, free attorney consultations, "do-it-yourself" seminars, software and books. You might also explore "unbundled legal services": having an attorney assist you with only portions of the legal proceedings (such as preparing documents that you will file on your own behalf) which will reduce your legal expenses.

  7. Educate Yourself and Your Children: Read books about the divorce process, talk to family members and friends, and know about the effects of divorce on children. Use age-appropriate explanations to talk with your children about what the marital separation will mean to their lives and what changes they can expect. Attend individual counseling or group sessions, if necessary.
The Renton law firm of Mogren, Glessner & Roti, represents clients in a variety of family law cases. Please visit our web page at for more information.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Communication Between Lawyer and Client

A. The Importance Of Communication
The lawyer-client relationship works best when the two of you are able to communicate -- not only about the facts of your case, but about your working relationship. Information should flow both ways between you and your lawyer. Just as your lawyer should satisfy your need for information, you should provide your lawyer with all information that your lawyer requests. Advice based on incorrect or incomplete facts may be worse than no advice at all. If you do not understand the advice you are given, or find it hard to accept, tell your lawyer. If, for example, you do not understand why your lawyer is recommending that you accept or reject a particular settlement proposal, you should ask why the recommendation is being made. Only by giving your lawyer the opportunity to explain things will you know whether there is a real problem to be addressed.

B. Financial Information
Your lawyer will ask you for financial information, and perhaps ask you to fill out a questionnaire. Financial information includes income, expenses, assets, and liabilities. Your lawyer may also want to see papers such as income tax returns, paycheck stubs, statements of savings and investments, employee benefit statements, and papers regarding your debts. Your cooperation in getting this information to your lawyer, although time consuming, is essential to the proper preparation of your case.

C. Marital History
Your lawyer may also ask you to prepare a history of your marriage which includes personal as well as financial information. Where the custody of your children is in dispute, more than financial information will certainly be necessary. In addition to a history, some lawyers ask their clients to keep a diary of events related to the divorce. Complete candor, including any negative facts about yourself, is crucial.

D. Keeping in Touch
Your lawyer will be communicating with you. There may be periods of inactivity, but when something important happens, your lawyer will want to let you know. If you move, or are planning to be away, be sure your lawyer knows where you are.

E. Calling Your Lawyer and Returning Calls
Lawyers work on more than one case at a time and the practice of matrimonial law requires lawyers to spend time in court, at depositions, in conference, and on the telephone. So you should not expect your lawyer always to be available immediately when you call. You should, however, expect that your lawyer, or a staff member, will respond to your telephone calls promptly. If an emergency arises, tell the person who answers the telephone that it is an emergency and explain the situation. No matter how upset you are, be courteous to your lawyer's staff. Likewise, if your lawyer calls and leaves a message for you to call back, you should do so as soon as possible. Your lawyer will understand that you also have commitments that may make you temporarily unavailable. Your lawyer will appreciate your calling during regular business hours. But most lawyers will make every effort to be available when needed for a real emergency.

F. Being Available
You and your lawyer will have a hard time communicating if you are not available to each other. Before hiring any lawyer you should consider whether your schedules are compatible. If you can't meet with your lawyer during normal business hours, make that clear before you hire the lawyer. Remember that your lawyer is a human being, entitled to free time. If you expect your lawyer to be available evenings or weekends, say so in advance so that the lawyer can decide whether to take your case under those conditions.

G. Correspondence
When you receive correspondence from your lawyer, read it and respond. Delay in responding to correspondence could be harmful to your case.

H. Your Involvement In Other Legal Proceedings
If at any time during your divorce, you are involved with any other legal proceeding, such as criminal, traffic, juvenile, probate, tax, bankruptcy or a civil lawsuit, let your lawyer know as soon as possible. It may affect your divorce.

The Renton law firm of Mogren, Glessner & Roti, represents clients in a variety of family law cases. Please visit our web page at for more information.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

What You CANNOT Expect From Your Lawyer

Whenever a relationship is established, its participants form expectations of each other. The lawyer-client relationship is no different. And as in any other relationship, lawyers and clients have rules and boundaries which govern those expectations. Some expectations are appropriate; others are not. In the last post, I discussed an overview of what you can expect of your lawyer. Today I will address what you cannot expect from your lawyer.

  • Your lawyer will not handle matters that are beyond the scope of your agreement. The lawyer you have hired to represent you in your divorce will not usually represent you in other matters unrelated to your divorce, unless the two of you specifically agree otherwise. For example, if you need legal assistance in selling your home, preparing your will, or defending against a civil lawsuit, it will be necessary to make specific arrangements with your lawyer, or to hire another lawyer, possibly in the same firm, with the appropriate specialization or expertise.
  • Your lawyer cannot guarantee results. The eventual outcome of your divorce depends on the facts, the law, how the judge views your case, and other factors. Every case is different. Although your lawyer may express an opinion on possible or probable outcomes, nobody can be sure of the result until it happens.
  • Your lawyer cannot do anything unethical or illegal. Lawyers work under very strict legal and ethical codes and take them very seriously. If you ask your lawyer to do anything unethical or illegal, your lawyer will refuse. If you insist, your lawyer will withdraw from your case. Examples of forbidden conduct are: encouraging or permitting perjury, hiding assets or income, and in any manner deceiving the court or the other side.
  • Your lawyer may be reluctant to act against the best interests of your children. A lawyer's first duty is to look out for the client's best interest. Yet divorce lawyers are also concerned about the welfare of the children and some ethical guidelines encourage lawyers to keep the children's interest in mind.
  • Lawyers and Clients Should Maintain an Appropriate Professional Relationship. Sometimes friendships and even romances develop between lawyers and clients. Many lawyers have close personal friendships with former clients. But because of the intense emotional nature of a divorce, it is usually best for lawyers and clients to defer establishing a social relationship until after the case is over. Romantic relationships are not advisable as they interfere with a lawyer's objectivity and affect a client's expectations. A divorce lawyer and a client should never have a sexual relationship during the case.
The Renton law firm of Mogren, Glessner & Roti, represents clients in a variety of family law cases. Please visit our web page at for more information.