5 Things Every New Family Law Client Should Know
No one marries expecting divorce. No one has children expecting custody issues. A couple doesn’t accumulate wealth together just to divide it later. But, as is often said, “life happens,” and knowing the best approach to difficult situations is key to resolving issues.
When contemplating divorce, there are five things you should understand at the outset.
Documents are King: Divorce litigation is document-intensive, be it text messages, e-mails, or financial statements. Prior to engaging an attorney, you should, at a minimum, ascertain the availability of statements for all your financial accounts for at least a period of one year. This saves time and money. If you do not have access, you should request it as soon as possible. Additionally, text messages and emails with your significant other could provide useful as litigation develops.
Client/Attorney Relationship: My role as your attorney is to advise and counsel. It is not to make decisions. The direction of your case ultimately lies with you. That includes how to proceed with discovery, whether to schedule a hearing, the goals of the litigation itself, and how to proceed to achieve those goals.
Ask Questions: You should never be scared to ask questions. This may be your first time in any legal proceeding, let alone something as emotionally intense as a divorce. If you have a question about divorce litigation generally or any particular aspect of your marriage and its potential effect on your case, you should make sure to ask the question at the initial consultation. You should continue to ask questions as your case develops so that you may be fully informed.
Prepare for Ups and Downs: Litigation rarely moves in a “straight line.” There will be peaks of success, and there may be valleys where something does not go as planned or the optimal result is not achieved. Discussion and preparation for all possible scenarios is key for helping you make the decision that works best for you.
Be Open and Honest: The worst possible situation is when a client does not disclose a pertinent fact to their attorney, especially if this fact surfaces at trial and there is no prepared response or rebuttal. It is essential that clients disclose all relevant case facts, both good and bad, to their attorney. If it is not disclosed, it cannot be considered in reference to the entire case and puts the client at a disadvantage.
An understanding of these concepts can be the difference between hitting the ground running or being stuck in the mud and trying to get your footing.