By: Stephen J. Plog
Do not let anxiety, apprehension, or the fear of the unknown subtract from your first meeting with your family law attorney. Thought and careful preparation will allow both you and your attorney to gain the most positive results from your first consultation.
Family law is more than divorce. Family law may involve any of the following:
- Child custody;
- Child support;
- Protection orders;
- Enforcement of orders; and
- Other family-related matters.
Anticipate Your Attorney’s Questions and Your Own Questions
Before sitting down with a family lawyer regarding any of the above, sit and anticipate your attorney’s questions as well as your own as they relate to:
- Your priorities and goals. What do you want out of your case? Your attorney can turn your top priorities and objectives into legal issues and strategies to make them a legal reality;
- Your past problems and how you arrived where you are now. This will help keep you focused and allow your attorney to get to know you better, and where you are coming from;
- What you believe the other party wants out of the action. What will the other party be willing to negotiate or bargain with or about? Or are they hostile as to all suggestions?;
- Will the other party come to the negotiating table to talk at all? Or is this a case that a judge will need to rule on every issue?;
- Does the other party already have an attorney? What is that attorney’s name, address, and phone number?;
- Were you already served with court documents and a summons from an attorney? There are time limits to answer legal documents, and your attorney needs these right away; and
- Are there any previous legal agreements? If so, your attorney must know and file to modify these agreements.
The following questions and issues are somewhat specific to martial actions and those about children, support, and visitation:
- What are your occupation and income? What about the other party? This is necessary for spousal maintenance and alimony as well as child support;
- What are your significant marital assets and debts (for a matrimonial action)? There is an equitable division of all marital assets and debts in a final Colorado divorce;
- Who lives in the marital home? This is especially important when there are children in the marital home;
- Are there previous prenuptial, legal separation, divorce, or child visitation and support agreements? Any prior legal agreement can have a profound effect on your current case; and
- Do you have any proposals about child support, visitation, or child custody cases? When couples cannot make their own best decisions about child-related matters, the court will step in to do so.
It’s not always necessary to bring financial documents, including pay stubs, credit card bills and tax returns to your first consultation with a family law attorney. The family law attorneys of Plog & Stein, P.C. suggest asking your family lawyer whether or not this information needs to be presented during the initial consultation. In most situations financial documents are not needed until later in the process. If you have relevant court documents certainly bring those.
Be Honest With Yourself and Your Family Law Attorney
Be honest with yourself and your attorney when defining your goals and needs. Ask the Family Law or divorce lawyers about fees and the potential cost of the case. Take notes during your meeting and afterward, and bring any questions to your follow-up appointment.
Tell your family law and divorce attorney anything you think might be relevant. Only then can they offer their best legal advice and represent you to their fullest potential. Your attorney will be able to quickly tell you what facts might matter and what might not. In many cases, detail matters. As such, if you think it might matter, mention it.
If you need an experienced family law attorney in the Denver area, contact Plog & Stein, P.C. Serving Denver for over 20 years, Plog & Stein, P.C. is a full-service family law firm focusing on strategic solutions to even the most complex cases. Read our feature in Attorney at Law Magazine to learn more about our firm today.