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Stevens Law

Firm Overview

I focus on providing affordable representation in Missoula and Ravalli Counties, in Western Montana.

I also focus on establishing a professional and personal relationship with clients. Family law issues are intensely personal to the client and often highly emotional. Many clients have never retained an attorney or navigated a dissolution of marriage ("divorce") or a challenge to their parenting ("custody"). It is important to me that my clients trust me to guide them through a legal maze for which they have no road map.

I believe that family issues do not belong in an adversarial court setting. I am a strong believer in allowing clients a chance to meet with counsel in a safe environment to fully discuss their goals and, with guidance from the attorney and a mediator, to craft an agreement that is mutually beneficial to both parties and their children. Most important, mediation allows the parents to craft a parenting schedule that is uniquely suited to their children, rather than fighting in court and relinquishing their choices to the presiding judge.

I established a solo practice in 1993. My officemate and I were remodeling and painting our office space while we were waiting for our bar results. We had to be busy to keep from chewing our fingernails to the quick.

Example cases

As different as family situations are, their family dynamics and difficulties are equally different. The easiest case I've had was resolved before the client hired me. The parties had thoroughly and amicably discussed every aspect of their dissolution, and then one party hired me to present it to the court. We received the final decree within 30 days of filing the petition.

The most difficult cases took more than four years, hindered by threats, hidden assets, withholding the children, falsely accusing one parent of abuse. It is not unusual for one or both parties to be hostile with each other, or one party is an active or recovering substance abuser who tries to hide relapses, or the opposing party to be dangerous enough to require an order of protection, to dissolutions and parenting matters in which the parents put their hurt aside to work as a team to create a parenting plan that first meets the children's needs and then the parents' needs. Some cases involve clients who have been clean and sober and could have successfully petitioned the court for increased parenting time until they were arrested for the third or fourth relapse (alcohol in one case, methamphetamine in another). Most cases are not so dramatic. In most cases, my clients use mediation to settle their disputed issues. Occasionally, parents can put their hurt aside to work as a team, creating a parenting plan that is best for the children, with the parents' preferences come second.

Main Office
Main
P.O. Box 999
Lolo  MT  59847
Phone
  • (406) 273-7301
Fax
  • (406) 273-6626

Fees

Free Initial Consultation?
I offer a 30 minute and a 60 minute consultation at my hourly rate.
Services Offered For Fixed Fees?
I usually charge by the hour because family law cases vary in complexity and length of time involved. For uncontested dissolutions, parenting matters, and child support matters, I sometimes charge a flat fee for each stage of the matter. For service members on active duty, and after some discussion of the case, I offer a flat fee based on the complexity of the matter.
Hourly Rates
$150 per hour, $125 per hour to service members on active duty.

Office Information

Office Hours
Monday through Thursday

9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Closed Friday.
Emergency After Hours
No

How did your firm decide on the primary area of practice(s)?

Family law was not so much a calculated decision as it was a natural progression, a foregone conclusion, that I would have a practice helping clients navigate life events, whether as a counselor or a counselor at law.

What is your firm's point of view regarding clients educating themselves on legal issues?

The easy answer is: When a client understands the matter's legal issues, the procedures involved, and the possible outcomes, the client is equipped to intelligently discuss the case, provide necessary documents, and make informed decisions.

Consider the nature of family law cases. Family law is highly personal to the individual. My client is not just a consumer of legal services. My client's role and responsibility is to make life decisions. My role and responsibility as attorney is to educate my client about the law, to correct misinformation from friends' war stories, to advise my client on Montana law, to discuss legal and procedural options, and to discuss my client's proposed decisions. An important part of my job is education.

Is your firm willing to review documents prepared by clients?

I always review my clients' documents. My clients do not draft legal documents, but I do ask them to provide a written narrative of their parenting backgrounds, and a proposed parenting schedule. I also ask them to keep a journal of parenting issues that arise between the parents. I occasionally review documents prepared by pro se litigants. Because they did not retain me for legal services, and because I do not know the underlying facts of the case, I cannot give legal advice specific to that person's case. I limit document review to proper format, whether the document contains vague or ambiguous language, whether the person needs to be more specific.

Is your firm willing to coach clients who want to represent themselves?

Yes, I am willing to coach, as long as the person understands that pro se means the person has not retained me to represent him or her in the matter. I will provide a consultation during which I briefly outline Montana law that applies to the case, propose some general suggestions, and give some instruction regarding proper format and content of documents.

* Nolo has confirmed that every member attorney has a valid license and is in good standing with the state agency that licenses lawyers. Any past disbarments and suspensions (with possible exceptions for minor violations or nonpayment of dues, in our discretion) will be indicated accordingly in the badge. Member attorneys are required to notify Nolo immediately if they become the subject of any disciplinary action by any state licensing agency.

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