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FAQs

Here are some more Frequently Asked Questions, thoughtfully compiled the attorneys of Notaro Gordon & Associates, P.C., when getting started with a Pittsburgh Family Law or Divorce Attorney or Attorneys:

How do I get started with a Family Law lawyer, and decide whether he can help me?

A PA divorce lawyer might talk to you briefly over the telephone to introduce himself and to get a sense of what kind of service you need (which is usually free of charge), but the first meaningful contact between the two of you is probably going to be an initial consultation in his office. You can expect to pay for this type of divorce, support, custody, or other family law related in-depth consultation.

The first meeting with one of our Pittsburgh family law lawyers is your chance to get important information, and to decide whether this lawyer is the one who can do the job for you. Divorce lawyers (whether from Allegheny County or any other County in PA) are just like anyone else; some are easier to get along with than others, and some have better skills and experience. As you discuss your situation and listen to how the family law lawyer responds to your concerns, think about the person sitting across from you. Does he try to put you at ease in his office? Does he listen to what you have to say, and seem to understand what you are dealing with? Does he seem experienced with situations like yours, and does his advice make sense? If he cannot answer a question, will he explain the reason? Is this someone you feel you can trust during this difficult period of your life?

Although one meeting with a Pittsburgh divorce attorney cannot give you every solution to every problem, by the time it is over you should have a fairly solid understanding of where you stand right now, what might (or should) happen next, and what to do to protect yourself.

What should I expect from my PA Family law lawyer?

Information. Your Allegheny County divorce lawyer should place the rug back under your feet, giving you the information you need to understand your options so that when you make your move, you are not shooting in the dark. A good PA family law attorney can give you the benefit of many people's experiences, pointing out strengths and pitfalls, and making suggestions that might help you get what you need without having to fight. He will listen carefully to your concerns, and offer meaningful perspectives.

Diligence. Our Pittsburgh divorce attorneys will stay on top of your case, meet deadlines, and always will be prepared when they appear in court. The attorney will prepare you for your role in the family law, support, alimony, custody, or other case, and will make the most of every opportunity.

Communication. Your telephone calls will be returned with reasonable promptness, and your PA family law lawyer will keep you informed of important developments of in your case. He will offer you clear answers to your questions, in plain English.

Courtesy and respect. A good Pittsburgh divorce lawyer will treat you as a valued client, and will conduct himself professionally toward both opposing counsel and your spouse. A divorce or any other lawyer should never sacrifice standards of decency in the name of zealous representation, and those who do can actually make things worse for their own clients.

Candor. An Allegheny County family law attorney who doesn't "give it to you straight" isn't doing you much good. If you don't know the true picture of your situation as your PA divorce lawyer sees it, you can't take it into account when you make decisions. A good Pittsburgh divorce lawyer may not always have good news for you, but you will always know what he thinks about your situation.

Confidentiality. You can feel comfortable speaking to your divorce attorney freely, provided that you do not expect him to help you hide assets or support perjury.

What shouldn't I expect from PA divorce lawyers?

All licensed Allegheny County and Pennsylvania family law attorneys and divorce lawyers in Pittsburgh are required to conform to a professional code of ethics that is enforced by the Disciplinary Board of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. A good PA divorce attorney values a solid reputation among colleagues and judges for ethical conduct, and can offer that reputation to his clients. A family law lawyer's reputation is only ever as good as the faith he keeps today, and maintaining it will be extremely important to him. When you retain a divorce lawyer, don't expect a "mouthpiece," television-style courtroom drama, or an "anything we can get away with" attitude. A good Pittsburgh divorce lawyer's effectiveness lies in the good advice he offers and his skillful handling of your case, not in undirected aggression and expensive bluster. Other things not to expect a good family law lawyer to do:

  • Hide your income and assets.
  • Lie to his opponent or to the court, or permit you to do so.
  • Tolerate disrespectful conduct, or turn a blind eye toward it.
  • Escalate or manufacture a fight where none need occur.
  • Create or escalate a fight for its own sake.
  • Indulge in bitter rhetorical contests at his client's expense.
  • Extend credit to you in lieu of prompt payment.

Perhaps most important of all, never expect your divorce lawyer to take sole responsibility for your case like the mechanic who keeps your car on the road. You are an essential part of the litigation process, because when all is said and done, you – and perhaps your children, too – will be the one living the consequences of what you do today. You are facing some of the most important life choices you may ever have to make, both for you and for your children; don't surrender them to someone else.

What will my family law lawyer expect from me?

Candor. There is no such thing as a perfect case, and no one leads a perfect life. If your divorce attorney doesn't know about the skeletons in your closet, he won't be prepared when your spouse throws the door wide open to put them on display! It is always better for your family law attorney to find out about the challenges he will face from you in his office, rather than from your spouse in a courtroom.

Follow his advice. Your PA divorce attorney offers you the benefit of his education and experience, an outside perspective, a cool head and the experiences of other people who faced what you now must face. He knows that it is never enough to be right or to deserve justice, and that there are some forms of vindication that no judge can ever deliver. He knows what judges want to see (and don't want to see!), and how they are likely to view what you say and do. While he can never guarantee you favorable results, he can suggest approaches that might help you, guide you around the pitfalls that are common to family law cases, and help you make the most of the strong points of your case.

Respect, courtesy and common sense. At a time in your life when you might be least able to maintain a cool head, it is all the more important that you do so. Even spouses who never wanted to fight can find themselves in foxholes because of a moment's passionate anger. You can't control your spouse's actions, but you can – and must – keep control over yourself and your conduct. If you act like you are being recorded every time you deal with your spouse, and are prepared to answer for every decision you make, you will never have to fear the truth. Your divorce lawyer can be your sword-and-shield, or he can be your broom-and-dustpan; your conduct can make all the difference.

Pay attention, and stay in touch. Stay involved in your case, and be your divorce lawyer's active partner. Open, read and (if necessary) respond promptly to what he sends you. Return his phone calls. Keep him up to date on developments that may affect your case.

Give him what he asks for. During the course of your case, your family law attorney will probably ask you for a variety of information and documents, or you may have to provide them to your spouse as part of the litigation process. Be diligent in responding to these requests, and discuss any concerns or questions as early as possible.

Follow court orders. Unless your divorce lawyer tells you differently, always follow court orders. Failure to do so can result in penalties that range from frustrating to crippling, depending on the nature of the violation.

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