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Frequently Asked Questions

1: What is the basic process of litigation?
2: Can a business file a claim in small claims court?
3: What is Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)?
4: Are decisions by mediators or arbitrators binding on the parties?
5: What should I bring to my first appointment?

1: What is the basic process of litigation?
   
A:
The civil litigation process (including family law and divorce) is complex and can require extensive work, even if the case settles before going to trial. The process is controlled by numerous federal or state rules, depending on the court your case is in, and involves a number of steps, including:
 
•  Filing a petition and answer and any subsequent amendments.
•  Filing and arguing various pretrial motions, as applicable.
•  Conducting discovery, including depositions, interrogatories,
    and requests for production.
•  Attending the pretrial conference to determine the trial schedule
    and to address any last pretrial motions.
•  Trial and judgment.
•  Appeals, if a party believes that some part of the judgment was wrong.
•  Proceedings to enforce a judgment, if necessary.
   
2: Can a business file a claim in small claims court?
   
A: Business owners often find themselves in disputes over relatively small amounts of money for which the county or state courts would be cost prohibitive and too tedious. For these situations, the small claims or the justice court is often the perfect forum. Both courts are presided over by the Justices of the Peace. These courts are less formal, there is less pretrial procedure, and trial can usually be conducted much more quickly than in higher courts. The main difference is that procedure in the small claims court is even more informal than in the justice court. Litigants in the small claims and justice courts can and are well advised to be represented by an attorney.
   
3: What is Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)?
   
A: Alternative dispute resolution is the name for various means of settling disputes, including arbitration and mediation, without undergoing traditional litigation. Arbitration is similar to a trial in that the parties present their respective arguments to a neutral arbitrator who makes a decision, presumably predicting how a court would decide. Arbitration is typically quicker, less formal, and less costly than traditional litigation, but parties do not enjoy all of the procedural protections that they would have in a court of law. Mediation consists of an unbiased, trained mediator hearing the parties' arguments and attempting to offer a mutually acceptable compromise. Mediators often succeed by facilitating calm, reasoned discussion between the parties and offering them an unbiased view of the merits of each side's case.
   
4: Are decisions by mediators or arbitrators binding on the parties?
   
A:
The results of arbitration are usually binding only because the parties usually sign a contract before beginning arbitration in which they agree to be bound by the decision. However, the parties can forego such an agreement, in which case the arbitration would be nonbinding. Mediation, on the other hand, is typically nonbinding. The result is more like a suggestion for a reasonable compromise, but if the parties are not satisfied they may continue to litigate in court.
   

5: What should I bring to my first appointment?

   
A:
Not all legal matters require the same information. Accordingly, our firm has different forms for specific types of cases. In general, new clients should bring the downloadable forms and personal documentation listed below. If you have other documents that you believe may be pertinent to your case, bring them with you to your initial appointment.
   
 
Divorce/Custody:

Client Questionnaire
Proposed Support Decision(if there are children of the marriage)
Proposed Property Division(if you and your spouse own property)Most Recent pay stub
Most recent tax return

   
 
Other family law/Post-divorce modification:

Client Questionnaire
Proposed Support Decision
Most recent pay stub

   
 
General Civil matters:

Client Questionnaire
Documentation of dispute
Copy of contract (suits for breach of contract)

   
 
Commercial Collections:

Client Questionnaire
Documentation of debt

   
 

Will/Probate:

Client Questionnaire (Will)
Client Questionnaire (Probate)
Decedent's current Will

   
 

Criminal:

Client Questionnaire
Defendant's Statement
Witness information
Any Court documentation related to your case

   

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From its office in Austin, the law firm of Henry Newton Bell, III serves clients throughout central Texas including the cities of Austin, Bastrop, Caldwell, Cedar Park, Elgin, Georgetown, Giddings, Killeen, La Grange, Lakeway, Leander, Llano, Marble Falls, Pflugerville, Round Rock, San Marcos, Temple, West Lake Hills, and Wimberley, and the counties of Bastrop County, Bell County, Blanco County, Burleson County, Burnett County, Caldwell County, Comal County, Fayette County, Guadalupe County, Hays County, Lampasas County, Lee County, Milam County, Travis County, and Williamson County.

 
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