Monday, February 28, 2011

Is This Your First Visit To a Family Law Attorney’s Office? What You Need to Know.

We are not clairvoyant, and we cannot help unless you give us all the facts.   We understand that you may be nervous, embarrassed and maybe a little bit angry.  We get it.  However, we cannot read minds and, we don’t do well with the rambling either.  Before you first visit, write down the facts and write down your questions.  Now, I would say it takes two to tango.  Don’t just focus on what the other party did to ruin the marriage.  Tell us everything so we can properly advise you and prepare to meet evidence offered by the other side.  Nothing can be more catastrophic than to have opposing counsel know something about you that we do not know.  Be open and honest, so we can protect you.  It is our duty to keep your confidences. 

Many spouses know little about the household finances, bank accounts, taxes, and even the mortgage.  I have represented clients who knew nothing about the other party’s income.  If you do not know, you don’t know but don’t just sit around and not try to obtain this information before you see us.  Make a diligent effort to get some of this information.

If you are contemplating a divorce, please do not look for us to tell you whether or not you should proceed with a divorce.  We are not in your marriage, and you have to make that decision.  You have to do what is right for you and your family.  We are counselors at law, only.  We are not marriage counselors, mental health counselors, or members of the clergy.   

Most people who are heading to Family Court because of divorce, separation, or custody tend to share the experience with family, friends, co-workers, or casual acquaintances who usually give advice, based on their experience (or give advice based on no experience at all, unfortunately).   You can seek emotional support, but try to use discretion.   Your “friends” may have to show up in court to disclose embarrassing facts about you.   It happens!   So, watch what you say, watch what you do as well.  We are the professionals.  So, be careful when your associates/friends/so-called counselors tell you how you should handle your business.  Every case is different, and their experiences cannot compare to yours.   Please do not tell the attorney at the initial consultation what your cousin told you. 

If you are seeking to hire an attorney in private practice, expect that you will have to pay attorney fees.  You should already know how you are going to pay for legal services and have a plan in place to obtain the fees prior to the meeting.  The attorney may not disclose fees when you make an appointment, but be aware that Divorce and Family Law attorneys do not work on a contingency basis. 

These are a few suggestions that I believe are important for relieving some of the anxiety that most experience during this stage of the game.  Remember that we understand, and we do want to help.    

Legal Disclaimer:   The informational content presented in my blog should not be used as a resource or considered legal advice.  These are my thoughts, and you should seek advice from a divorce and family law professional in the state where you reside. 

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