Kenyans file an average of around 400,000 cases in court each year. Most of these cases, however, would not have ended up in court if the litigants had sought the advice of a lawyer or retained the services of a family lawyer.
Some of the cases have locked up billions of shillings in inheritance cases, marital property disputes and fights over shares and money in banks, among other institutions.
Section 159 of the Constitution endorses alternative dispute resolution as a legal option for court proceedings. The law encourages the resolution of cases through reconciliation, mediation, arbitration, and traditional dispute resolution mechanisms.
Why is it advisable to retain the services of a family lawyer?
For starters, a family attorney helps minimize estate cases. A family lawyer helps to write a will and will be one of the witnesses in the event of disputes in the division of property or other disputes such as the place of burial or the method which often locks parents in court battles .
Judy Thongori, who has practiced for more than 30 years, says a family law attorney deals with legal issues that arise between and among family members.
Some of the legal issues, she says, are easily solved with some advice while others involve court cases. To thrive as a family law attorney, she says you not only need to have a good understanding of the laws, but also interpersonal skills and empathy, as they primarily deal with the feelings of their clients. .
Ms. Thongori, who has practiced for more than 30 years, notes that the services of family lawyers are helpful in guiding on how to move forward while mitigating the inevitable pain for oneself and other family members. family in times of conflict.
“Experience in any area is very important, so hiring someone with expertise in the subject means you will get the best advice. Family matters are very sensitive and a wrong decision in the dispute resolution process could result in a lot avoidable suffering for the family,” notes Ms. Thongori, who specializes as a family law attorney. The process of finding a lawyer should involve research or even referrals.
“However, it is also important to determine for yourself whether you agree with the lawyer; do you feel heard and understood? she poses.
“Look for the skill, the integrity that you can get from referees, then look for your form,” she insists.
Julie Soweto, another lawyer, agrees, saying legal advice can save time and money. With so many successful cases and contested wills, she says a family law attorney is a must. “Have a will made by a lawyer and make it known (to the family) beforehand,” she advises.
However, if one is unable to retain the services of a lawyer, hiring one as needed is also an option. Ms Soweto notes that either alternative saves families from spending millions of shillings on court cases.
Danstan Omari, who also practices family law, says a family law attorney is more crucial than ever as the practice of law expands and new areas emerge.
For example, Mr Omari says it is now easier to file for divorce, unlike before when the law did not allow anyone until they had been married for three years.
“Issues of child custody, maintenance, access to children, child rearing, disposition of matrimonial property and even funeral rites can easily be resolved with a family law attorney or consultant” , he said.
“For your information, you need the consent of the spouse before charging this family asset to a bank to obtain a loan or to dispose of a marital asset,” he advises, citing one of the cases where to consult a lawyer. would avoid family conflicts.
But these lawyers are not only an invaluable asset in times of succession and transfer of property. Mr. Omari says they can even show where a child is being bullied at school or a spouse is being harassed at work.
Withholding fee Sh1m
Is it expensive to hire a family lawyer?
A lawyer can charge up to 1 million shillings in annual fees, but the costs of filing a case in court, transferring, registering trademarks and collecting debts, among others, are determined under of the Lawyers Remuneration Ordinance.
Ms Thongori says the services of family lawyers are not exactly scheduled as they are associated with disputes. “Nobody puts a budget on them like medical, so they will almost always feel expensive. That said, fees vary from service to service and attorney to attorney,” she says.
She adds that while the law prescribes minimum fees for services, it does not prescribe maximum fees, which are up to the client and lawyer to negotiate and agree upon.
Ms Soweto says the bill depends on the nature of the work and the transaction involved. “Some would charge on an hourly basis while others on volume of work,” she says, but advises people, especially those with large properties, to retain the services of a lawyer to complete their transactions.
Regarding fees, Mr. Omari thinks it is affordable to pay a deposit, say for example an agreed amount per year rather than hiring one when the need arises.