By Thomas Moore, Office Manager

Minnesota Judge Jay Quam speaks frankly, and to those of us who are not attorneys in the article: Judging Without Lawyers:  Not Knowing Makes for Nightmares. I recommend you read Judge Quam’s article in full, but I’ve included excerpts below.

Judge Quam: “Judges want more than anything to make the right decision in the case before them but can’t be comfortable with their decision unless they can be confident they have all relevant information.  Here’s where lawyers’ contribution to justice proves invaluable…

“Every judge want to do the right thing… the law is permissive enough for the judge to rule for either party depending on what the facts are. So, in the very large majority of cases, the facts are what the judge needs to guide him or her to the right decision.”

What Attorneys Do For You

Judge Quam points out that your lawyer provides him, the judge, with two essential functions.  Attorneys are “professional story gatherers, and professional story tellers.”  The judge is more comfortable knowing the underlying facts have been fully developed by trained professionals.  This is the story gathering function. He continues:

“The story-telling part is equally valuable. For starters, the lawyers know the important courtroom rules that the clients don’t know, but which are critical to the judge’s decision. The lawyers’ knowledge of the rules of the courtroom keeps the proceeding from becoming akin to an episode of ‘“Jerry Springer.’ The list of critical things that lawyers know, but others don’t, is a really long list…”  It includes:

  • The law;
  • The rules of evidence;
  • The protocol for presenting evidence;
  • When to speak;
  • When not to speak;
  • What is relevant, and what is not; and
  • What is persuasive, and what is not.

“…With lawyers involved, the judge knows that trained professionals have sifted through the evidence and presented the judge only that evidence which is truly relevant to the dispute.”

What Happens without an Attorney?

You may decide to represent yourself in court.  Here’s what the Judge has to say.  “With all that lawyers do, you may, very appropriately, ask: How in the world does our adversary system function when there are not trained advocates in it?

“The answer, I have found, is ‘not very well.’ Given the complexities of our court processes, as well as the difficult skill of advocating effectively for anything that matters, it is not hard to understand why…”

What happens is that, without an attorney to represent you, the judge often sees a number of things that are needed to be done but that he or she, whether constrained by time or by ethics, cannot do.  The judge cannot:

  • Educate you about the law
  • Educate you about procedures
  • Teach you how to present yourself properly in court
  • Investigate the case

All these functions, however, are precisely what you hire an attorney or lawyer to do.

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Even a Family Attorney Needs a Break!

Take the Kids Camping!

 

This is the last unofficial weekend of summer, and the last chance to take a long weekend camping at any of the many Minnesota State Parks      .    I recommend going to some of the ones further outside the Twin Cities than usual.  I spent a long weekend at the beginning of August at  Bear Head Lake     State Park outside Ely, MN,     the wanna-be-hosts of the    2016 Olympics  .)   

This weekend I’m venturing to  

Upper Sioux Agency State Park, where I plan to hike some trails and kayak some waters.  Favorites in the past have included Gooseberry Falls State Park outside of Duluth, and Sibley State Park, outside Wilmar.

 

State Parks are a great destination for families, small and large.  At Bear Head, our neighbors included a large family reunion with people from all over the five state area.  I enjoyed watching uncles teach nieces to fish, and grandpa argue with son over who snored louder.  State Parks have nice sized campsites, some with electricity for RVs, shower facilities, and well-informed staff that can help you make the most of your time out in the wild.

New Court Filing Fees in Minnesota 

As of July 1, 2009, new filing fees have gone into effect.  While I knew “they” (The courts in Minnesota) were talking about raising rates, I had no idea by how much.  Wow.  

Court Filing Fees in Hennepin County, MN

Filing for dissolution (divorce) in Hennepin County has gone from $332 to $402.  Filing a motion of any kind such as for child custody or in regard to a trust or estate planning legal matter has gone from $55 to $100.  A complete list of Hennepin County filing fees is available online at the Hennepin County website

 Court Fees in All Minnesota Counties

Filing fees vary by county and by type of matter (Family law, divorce, trust and estate, etc).  Check the State of Minnesota website      for the fee for your particular county and matter. 

 Emily M. Matson, Esq.

emily.matson@moorefamilylawMN.com

Moore Family Law

Plymouth, MN

Stress, Strain, and Divorce

A Few Words from A Family Law Office Manager

We live in stressful times. Half the people I know are depressed, it seems, agitated or both! Stressed out.

I can identify with you.  Take blogging.  Blogging is good for the spirit, provides a basis for helping folks out and of course is a great way to let other folks know who you – and your organization — are. But what if you’ve spent all week doing data entry and balancing the books? Dull, dull, dull!

What if you, like me, are not really qualified to blog about the most interesting things in the office? Here I am, office manager in a family law / probate / trusts and estates law firm with one paralegal, several attorneys – and me.  Everyone here is more qualified than I in the legal field.  My expertise is in marketing and cash management and, well, managing the office. 

Stress and Strain and the MTA (Marital Termination Agreement)

Recently a client came into the office to sign their MTA (Marital Termination Agreement – that’s legalese for divorce papers, at least here in Minnesota.  He was upset, he did / didn’t want to sign them. We talked. I was glad for a chance for some human contact and he and I actually have a lot in common – we’ve both been through a divorce and we’re both emotional about it – and committed to making it happen so we can move on.

Speaking of emotions, have you noticed the number of people going off the deep end lately and launching on various violent and destructive sprees? It’s a lot, it seems to me anyway. I think everyone is suffering from stress.  Divorce, like running or mountain climbing where you hit *the wall* and keep on going on raw will power – divorce, child custody, probate, estate planning – though divorce is the worst – all of these are emotional and often force you to go beyond what you think you can do and in fact sometimes do force you into situations where you really don’t know how to cope, or cope as well as you want.

Divorce and Self Help

Here’s my point.  Divorce almost inevitably involves real estate, child care arrangements, financial planning, health issues, and mental health issues. Seek help. If you had a broken leg you’d see a doctor. If you have to sell the house, find a realtor and a mortgage banker. If you have a spirit at risk of being broken, or a life in danger of being damaged, seek out not only friends you can talk with; but a support group, individual therapy, group therapy. Many of us have been there. It’s worth it.

So, that’s it!  Be your own best advocate for you and for your loved ones.

And the man who did / didn’t want to sign his divorce papers? He signed — *after* I promised that his attorney  would talk with him next week about it before proceeding.

Thomas Moore, office manager

Moore Family Law 

Thomas.Moore@MooreFamilyLawMN.com

 Cost, Dirty Tricks, Win / Lose and Divorce and Child Custody Attorneys

Several years ago, my lead attorney and I went to an American Bar Association  seminar in Monterey, California.  We met with many interesting and experienced family law attorneys.  One of these lawyers was Mr. Mark Chinn of Jackson, Mississippi.

 

Mark Chinn’s Family Law Web Site

 Yesterday, in the course of preparing some new written and web-based materials for helping our family law clients through divorce proceedings, child custody matters, etc., I realized that our law firm had actually implemented some legal strategies in divorce cases which Mark had discussed with us.  For instance, we are a ‘wrap-around’ firm and, while not strictly speaking practicing collaborative law, we do productively collaborate with other attorneys and with other professionals who can help our family law clients through a difficult time.

 Not only that.  Reading Mark’s blog I soon realized that his approach to law firm billing, ethics, and strategy is quite similar to ours.  I would encourage anyone reading this blog to follow the links to Mark’s family law blog and read there.  Please bear in mind that Mr. Chinn practices in Mississippi, and the firm I work for practices in Minnesota.  The laws are different.  Still, I think Mr. Chinn’s divorce blogs are well worth the read.

 

Mark Chinn’s Divorce Law Blog

  

Capturing Costs and Containing the Bill in a Family Law Case

  

Eliminate Dirty Tricks in a Divorce or Dissolution Case

  

Take the Win / Lose out of Child Custody Battles

 We hope you find these links useful.

 

 Thomas Moore

Office Manager

Thomas.Moore@MooreFamilyLawMN.com

 Moore Family Law, P.A.

Plymouth, MN 

www.MooreFamilyLawMN.com

Thankful Things in Divorce Law

Family Law and Peace and Quiet

It’s Friday, we have been very rushed all week and we have a firm retreat this weekend. Tonight we plan to have a summer cookout with friends. Hopefully today will be a quiet one! As it is I have a few minutes here to count our blessings. It may sound odd to think of being thankful in a law practice consisting of divorce cases, child custody cases and – more and more, recently – child support actions. Still, looking at the bright side really isn’t a luxury but a necessity; and it struck me earlier this week that I was really being inordinately grouchy!

The Bright Side of Working With Divorce, Child Custody, and Probate

Here are a few bright sides to our family law practice here in Minnesota.

1. Helping a client through a difficult divorce, custody dispute, etc.

The old saying that what does not break us makes us stronger can sound smug, I know, but I think it is, for me at least, true. Takes work!

2. Helping a client – and myself — grow to learn to apply the AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) prayer

“God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, courage to change the things we can, and wisdom to know the difference.” No matter what your belief, or disbelief, in God, I think this works and I am thankful that I have the opportunity at least to try to apply this to myself.

3. Making things go more smoothly in my daily tasks

Which result in more timely and economical delivery of our product – legal opinions – to our clients; with less friction along the way. 4. Hearing that what I do has actually helped someone in their divorce, probate, estate plan, child custody case.

5. Collaborating in the office with our family law and probate attorneys

To provide the best service we can to our clients.

6. In a divorce or probate legal case, successfully balancing

The emotional needs of our clients to the very practical matters of deadlines, paperwork, fees, billing, and so on.

7. Helping mesh everyone’s different styles, strengths, and emotions

In a productive way, whether they be lawyers, opposing counsel, client, vendor, or just me.

8. At the end of the day, knowing I have done my duty

To the firm and to our clients to the best of my ability.

Thank You

 And, to you who are reading this – thank you!

Thomas Moore

Office Manager

Moore Family Law

www.moorefamilylawMN.com

Plymouth, Minnesota

Thomas.Moore@MooreFamilyLawMN.com