What to Expect at Your Family Law Initial Consultation
You and your spouse have decided that you are going to get divorced. He/she tells you it is time to get a lawyer. You make some calls, talk to friends, and make an appointment for an initial consultation for your divorce. But now what? What do you bring? What questions do you ask? What if you don’t like the lawyer once you meet her?
Starting the divorce process can be overwhelming, and it is important that you are properly prepared for your first meeting with your potential lawyer. After all, you only get one chance to make first impression, right? One of the first things to remember is that your consultation remains confidential, even if you don’t end up retaining that lawyer. Furthermore, the fact that you met with a lawyer, even only for a single consultation, precludes your spouse from speaking to that lawyer.
Your goal at a consultation is to get all of your initial questions answered. Accordingly, make a list of things you want to ask before you even show up. There are no stupid questions, and you should not assume anything. If you have been served, or if you have documents that you think are going to be helpful, bring them along. It is possible that your spouse has served you with papers. They may not be necessary at an initial meeting, but if you don’t bring them, the attorney cannot review them.
Remember, you have choices. Just because you meet with an attorney does not mean he/she has to represent you. You are free to meet with as many attorneys as you want to before choosing somebody to represent you. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that every attorney is going to give you identical advice. In fact, a seasoned attorney will be able to tell you the law, and tell you how it may apply to your particular case. However, no attorney, no matter how much experience, can tell you exactly what would happen at a trial, as there are various outside factors at play. If you meet an attorney who makes those types of guarantees, you may want to try consulting with somebody else. An experienced attorney will tell you the truth, not just what you want to hear. Accordingly, if it sounds too good to be true, it just may be.
Finally, make sure you give your expectations prior to ending your initial meeting. If you want to hire the attorney, ask him/her how the process works to retain. Make sure you know the attorney’s hourly rate, how much he/she is seeking for a retainer, and how best to communicate with one another. Make sure both of you are on the same timeline. Certain matters require immediate action, but many do not. If you think something needs to be done right away, let your attorney know. Like many things in life, the more open and honest you are about what you want or what you need, the more smoothly your initial consultation will go.