Roger R. Harada
Attorney at Law

 

475 S. Arlington Ave.
Suite 1A
Reno, Nevada 89501
(775) 787-7200

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My Practice Philosophy - Domestic Relations/Family Law

  My law practice is primarily devoted to the rubric of law varyingly referred to as family law, matrimonial law, and domestic relations law.  My work in this area of law includes such things as divorces, drafting pre and post nuptial agreements, post divorce motion practice for modifications of decree as to custody and/or property issues, alimony, child custody and visitation, child support, adoptions, termination of parental rights, and appeals work. 

    I have specifically chosen to limit my practice primarily to family law to insure that I provide the finest and most skillful legal service for my clients.  In all cases, my primary objective is to help my clients get though their domestic legal problem as efficiently and inexpensively as possible.  However, this does not mean that I will allow any party, their attorney, or the legal system to walk all over you.  At all times, I endeavor to keep your overall objectives at the forefront of my mind while still vigorously pursuing and protecting your legal rights and interests. 

     First and foremost, I believe in the sanctity of marriage and the avoidance of divorce if at all possible.  If there is any way to save a marriage, especially one involving children, then those options should be pursued if feasible.  I firmly believe that any two persons capable of marrying initially have the means within them to stay together for the long haul. 

     That said, it is also a fact of life that marriage is simply an agreed upon partnership between two autonomous individuals (similar to a business partnership) and as such, one or both partners may at anytime seek to dissolve the partnership if it is no longer serving their best interests to maintain it.  In some instances, those partners may come to discover that they have such fundamental differences regarding what a marriage should look like that attempting to maintain it is futile for one or both of them.  In other cases, their respective views of life may change over time such that maintaining the partnership no longer makes good sense.  There are a lot of reasons this may come about, and of course, change can be painful.  However, on occasion I have personally witnessed clients of mine absolutely blossom after a divorce, and therefore, in the long run a divorce can also often be a positive thing as well, even though in the moment it feels awful. 

     Secondly, if you and/or your spouse are seriously contemplating divorce but you are unsure of all the potential consequences of that, then I strongly suggest that you contact my office and arrange to meet with me for an initial consultation.  There will be a charge for my initial consultation, however, if you subsequently choose to retain my services, the initial consultation fee that you pay will be credited toward your initial retainer, which has the effect of making your initial consultation free as I begin work on your case.  Just because you choose to meet with a lawyer to discuss a possible divorce doesn’t mean you will be getting one.  Meeting with me will give you knowledge of all the potential options you have in whatever path your marriage may take.  Many people who have consulted with me have left my office reassured and/or more confident about their options from the knowledge they obtained from me regarding their individual circumstances.  Each marriage is as unique as the persons in it, and each potential divorce requires the same level of unique individualized analysis. 

     I am of the opinion that if you are serious about retaining an attorney then you should interview and consult with at least three (3) attorneys, and go with the one you feel most comfortable with.  Additionally, I believe that you will find that any attorney worth discussing your important legal matters with will charge for his or her time, and if they don’t, then you should be concerned with why they would be willing to meet with you for free when their clients have to pay for their time. 

     If you are contemplating a divorce, but you are not sure if you have absolutely reached the decision to end your marriage, by all means feel free to call and set up an appointment with me for an initial consultation; I can assure you it will be money well spent.  I have often found that if a party is just made aware of what their legal rights are, and what procedures are in place to protect those rights, they often become empowered enough to obtain the mechanisms and/or assistance to save the very marriage they thought was lost.  Additionally, if it does come to pass that a divorce is the option that must be pursued; the party who has had the advice of legal counsel beforehand is at a tremendous advantage in the divorce process or litigation. 

     In any domestic relations matter, how long the case will take to resolve and how much it ultimately will cost is a function of two things: complexity and acrimony.  I work very hard to maintain a cordial and respectful working relationship with other attorneys in the family bar and with the courts to insure that your long term interests are protected long before you even choose to hire me.  Unfortunately, while we can work together to manage our end of the litigation in an effective and calm manner, we cannot control or modify the behavior of the opposing party or attorney on the other side.   

     I welcome and expect my client’s full participation and involvement as their case goes forward.  As a client of mine, you can always expect to be in control of your case and called upon to make the substantive decisions regarding any strategies to be employed, with my advice and counsel of course.  You will also receive all copies of correspondence and pleadings generated in your case, and I make myself readily available to my clients to answer any questions they may have throughout the pendency of their case.
 

Should I do the case myself?

     Even though some people in this situation will often believe they can do the divorce themselves, or through a paralegal service, I strongly advise the use of at least one attorney in any divorces for the following reasons:

     Doing a divorce without the advice of any legal counsel, also known as “pro per,” opens up the possibility of overlooking important legal issues that the parties often need to address in a divorce.  Frankly, I am retained quite often to fix problems created when parties sought to pursue a divorce by using pre-printed forms or paralegal services (that are forbidden by law from giving legal advice specifically because they don’t have the experience and legal training to do so) only to discover later that something of major significance was overlooked in the divorce.  In every case I have handled such as this, the amount of expense incurred by the parties to fix the problem, or lost because of the oversight, was greater than what would have been if a competent attorney were overseeing or handling the matter to begin with. 

     If you truly wish to avoid using attorneys, you can take advantage of mediation as an option for your divorce. While an attorney can represent only one party, a mediator who is also an attorney can bring an informed and objective voice to the communication between the separating parties to bring about a mutually satisfactory resolution to the matter.  I have often been thanked by both parties in a divorce for facilitating an amicable dissolution of their marriage or contested family law matter. 

     A divorce is typically an emotionally difficult period of time in a person’s life, and the burden of learning and negotiating the legal system only adds to the emotional fires created by the demise of the marriage and all its attendant circumstances.  For whatever reason, many people choose to go the route of self-representation, even though they would never choose to read a medical journal and perform surgery on themselves to fix a traumatic physical injury; they would simply go to a doctor.
 

Options for Divorce

     I offer my potential clients a variety of different “divorce services” to fully accommodate their differing needs governed by the various divorce situations that can arise. 

Litigation

     First, there is the traditional litigation model.  This is the option most typically pursued by parties, especially if there is significant or heated disagreement about the issues in the divorce or separation.  I am an experienced trial attorney with a reputation for being willing to take on the most difficult and vexatious divorce matters, while many other attorneys shy away from such contentious cases.  In these circumstances, litigation will be both time consuming and costly.  However, in such cases where the opposing party and/or their counsel are being unreasonably difficult, you need an attorney who is an experienced and seasoned litigator and who is not afraid of going to court.  Just as you would not want to take a knife to a gunfight, in a heavily contested divorce you do not want to be represented by someone who is not a true trial attorney. 

     Additionally, litigation is often the only mechanism that will truly guarantee that all the relevant information is brought to light.  This is especially important in complex financial cases where one spouse might be hiding or wasting assets or money from the other.  The information can be obtained through the process of “discovery.”  In the discovery phase of litigation, the attorney’s are empowered with tools to access information that insures that the ultimate truth can be arrived at.  These tools include the power to subpoena witnesses and documents, or the power to make demands for information that must be complied with subject to the other party being sanctioned by the court if they don’t give the information requested.  It takes a skilled and experienced attorney to obtain the relevant information; marshal the evidence; and present it to a court in such a fashion that justice is served for the client.  See my Biography Page on this website for a more detailed summary of my background and experience regarding litigation.

Mediation

     Under the right circumstances, if you and your spouse are amicable and agreeable, you may be able to effectuate a simple divorce with the use of just one attorney through the process of mediation, thereby saving a significant amount of money, time and frustration.  Additionally, your divorce can be “co-mediated” with a mental health professional also skilled in mediation who can bring in their expertise to assist the attorney in resolving complex emotional or child related issues should the need arise.  

     Simply stated, mediation is “assisted negotiation.”  The mediator is an impartial neutral, with no vested interest in any particular outcome except to ensure that the process by which each participant finds his or her way to an agreement is a fair one.  A skilled mediator helps to create an atmosphere in which the participants can communicate more effectively and better understand both their own and the other’s point of view.  The mediator never imposes a solution upon the parties nor presumes to advise them what they “should” do.  The mediator also helps the parties to identify and articulate all concerns and interests that may need to be addressed and to acquire all the information needed to reach an informed decision.

     A more apt term for “divorce mediation” would be “separation agreement” mediation.  When a couple is in the process of divorce, they need to make important decisions about: future parenting arrangements, child support, property distribution, and spousal maintenance.  The decisions a couple ultimately makes about these issues are memorialized by the attorney mediator into a legal document entitled a “Marital Separation Agreement, or MSA.”  When signed by the parties, the MSA becomes a legally-binding contract.  That agreement is ultimately filed in court and is incorporated into the divorce decree.

     As your mediator, I do not act as an attorney, and I give no legal advice to either spouse to the advantage of the other.  Whatever is said to one spouse will be said to the other.  I will however give the parties all the legal information to the extent they need or ask for it, and alert both parties of issues that my years of divorce litigation experience has taught me.

     Choosing mediation does not mean forsaking lawyers.  Although participants are typically not interested in bringing an attorney to the session itself, each may wish to consult with their own attorney before or between sessions.  I may also be brought in by the parties or their attorneys to mediate a divorce already in the litigation process, and that may be for a global divorce settlement, or simply to mediate a particular issue that is keeping the parties from settling a divorce matter.  Many parties have a strong preference not to bring in independent counsel until they are ready to sign the Marital Separation Agreement.  However, at that stage, I recommend that each retain independent counsel to review a preliminary draft of the agreement if they have any concerns.  Again, as with everything else in mediation, this is their decision to make.

     A lawyer is just one of a number of professionals a mediation participant may consult to help in making a prudent decision.  If information is power, an imbalance of power is often remedied by consultations with attorneys, accountants, financial planners, mental health professionals, child psychologists or anyone else who might help clarify important issues.  In the mediation session itself, the participants and the mediator review the financial statements item by item for clarification or elaboration to ensure that both parties are fully informed. 

     Mediation holds the promise of making divorce no more traumatic for the children than it has to be, nor less dignified to the participants than it can be.  In ever-increasing numbers, individuals, families, businesses and community groups are turning to mediation as a calmer, and more economical method of resolving disputes. 

Collaborative Divorce

      Another option for parties contemplating divorce is Collaborative Divorce.  Currently, I am one of a select few local attorneys specifically trained in applying collaborative law for divorce and offering this option for my divorce clients.  I am a practitioner member of the Collaborative Professionals of Nevada, an organization dedicated to promoting the use of collaborative law approaches for divorces in Nevada.

     While the detailed nuances of a Collaborative Divorce can be quite complex, simply stated, the collaborative law process consists of two parties and their respective lawyers signing a binding agreement to resolve the issues of their divorce outside of the traditional litigation process.  The parties further pledge, up front, to cooperate and disclose information fully, avoid the use of non-conciliatory tactics, and work together in a creative problem-solving orientation to facilitate a negotiated agreement regarding the issues of the divorce where the needs of both sides are met to their mutual satisfaction.  It is a highly creative and novel approach to divorce that is gaining acceptance nationwide.  The expected end result of a Collaborative Divorce is that both parties move away from their marriage without hatred or animosity that can often accompany a divorce.

     Collaborative Divorce is an especially appealing option for prospective divorce clients who have children and custody issues to resolve, as the divorcing parties will still be parents to the children going forward, and therefore, they will have to continue to be in close contact with each other regarding the raising of the children.  Collaborative Divorce may also be an advantageous option for situations where the parties have complex financial issues in their divorce, yet the parties reasonably trust each other about working out those financial issues. 

 

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