When a person consults with a lawyer about their family law case, there are many different things that should be discussed so that the client is as informed as possible about how the case would proceed and the terms of representation. While each situation is different, there are some common things that are applicable in every case:
A conflicts check
Prior to discussing any confidential information with a client, an attorney will perform a conflicts check. That is to ensure that the attorney or law firm is not prevented from representing the client due to a potential conflict of interests. For example, if the law firm already represents the husband in a divorce case, then the firm cannot represent the wife. Legal ethics rules can be quite complex, and so attorneys are careful to check for and avoid any conflicts. At our firm, the conflicts check process starts with us checking to potential conflicts before the client even enters the attorney’s office, and continues during the initial parts of the consultation.
Basic information about the parties involved and what has been happening
Gathering information about a person’s family law situation is an important part of the consultation process. The attorney will learn about the parties, their children, other people who are involved, and related information. In a divorce case, that can include a discussion about everything from child custody to financial matters such as spousal support wishes and retirement accounts.
The client’s goals for the case
What the client wishes to achieve in the case is also a critical part of the discussion to be had during a consultation. Knowing the client’s objectives as to custody, child support, and related issues is vital for the attorney to know, so that a plan to achieve those objectives can be developed. As it is the client knows their goals, and it is the attorney knows how to use the legal system to achieve a particular outcome, it is important that there be a meeting of the minds as to the goals for the case.
Critical timeframes or upcoming dates
Some divorce or custody cases are time-sensitive, for a variety of reasons. For example, a divorce case may be urgent due to a person’s desire to remarry. Or, it can be critical that a custody case is filed quickly before a change in the child’s address results in a loss of jurisdiction to handle the case in the preferred state’s court system. Other times, impending military deployment or a scheduled medical procedure can make it such that proceeding at a particular time will make life easier for the client.
Any special concerns or worries that the client may have
Every case is unique, and as such there will be special concerns or worries on the part of the client. Sometimes those special concerns involve domestic violence, and there is a need to seek a protective order along with the divorce or custody case. Other times, there is a concern about parental kidnapping and as a result it is prudent to file for an emergency injunction. Still other cases will center upon pets that are near and dear to a person’s heart. Any such issues should be discussed during the consultation so that the attorney can structure the case in a way to help address those concerns.
The financial aspect of representation
Knowing the financial aspects of retaining counsel often puts a person’s mind at ease. At the end of our consultations, the attorney provides the client with both verbal and written information about the fee structure that would apply for the case, so that there is no confusion.
Tags for this legal blog article: Alimony, Attorney-Client Relationship, Child Custody, Child Support, Consultation, Divorce, Emergency Injunction, Order of Protection, Protective Order, Spousal Support, Visitation