Initial consultation: What to expect

Are you beginning to have a suspicion that you need to hire a family law attorney? If you are reading a blog post from a family law attorney’s website, then I am willing to go out on a limb and say that you are. It could be a child custody case or a divorce that is on the horizon, but you are getting ready for what may be a hurricane in your life. What is most striking about a family law case from a first-time participant’s perspective is just how much of an impact the case will have on your day-to-day life.

A family law case involves the most precious, intimate, and important details of your life. Your family, your marriage, your children, your property, and your family legacy are all potentially at stake in a family law case. How you prepare for one of these cases can make a tremendous difference in all these important areas. This is something that even people who have gone through legal cases of other types may not be prepared for. Business litigation, bankruptcy, personal injury- you name it. Whatever other area of the law you have experience with will not compare to family law. This is a case that will touch on every area of your life.

So, with all of that said, the question that you need to consider at this point is what you can do to help prepare for a case. It’s not like you are welcoming the case by any stretch of the imagination. However, it is wise to be prepared for a family law case if it becomes unavoidable. The better prepared you can be, the better the result of the case. Even if the case does not need to be filed after all you can still get ready and be situated just in case. Along the way, you may need to think about how an attorney can benefit you now and in the future.

A short-term investment into your long-term future- hiring an attorney

In this age of do-it-yourself-everything, you may be questioning whether a family law case can be something that falls into that category. We like to do it ourselves in any area that we can. YouTube is chock full of resources to help us around the house whether it has to do with cooking or minor home improvements. What we used to have a call a professional for can sometimes be performed by us with only a small amount of time spent watching a few videos here or there.

The operative word, as far as we at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan are concerned, is that we are “sometimes” able to pull off what we try to do on our own when it comes to household improvements or cooking assignments. We can sometimes watch the chef prepare a meal and then can duplicate it. Other times, our kitchen ends up full of smoke and our pocketbooks are substantially lighter after we didn’t make all the right purchases at the grocery store. Nothing more frustrating than planning a simple meal and finding out that the ingredients are a mile and a half long.

Those household improvements are even trickier. As a husband and dad, I sometimes get a little big for my britches and take on more responsibility than I should for fixing things around the house. I admit, those internet do-it-yourself videos often fuel my hubris. Sometimes, I manage to pull off the repair. Other times, I end up hurting myself and/or the house before calling a professional to do the job correctly.

Ironically, this is also what can happen when it comes to hiring an attorney. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan appreciates the ability to serve all of our clients. We can also say that many of our clients have come to us over the years after initially trying to represent themselves in a family law case. Only after figuring out the time, expense, and hassle associated with representing themselves was too much to handle on their own they ended up coming to us. Better late than never, but please bear in mind that you cannot recoup the time and money expended towards a family law case.

Do you pull your teeth? Have you changed your motor oil? What about stitching up your own children’s eyebrows after they fall off the teeter-totter? I am willing to bet the answer to all those questions is “no.” If you do not handle those things on your own then you should ask yourself if you are willing and able to handle self-representation in legal matters on your own.

If you are having questions about how to proceed with a family law case, why not reach out to the Law Office of Bryan Fagan today? We offer free-of-charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone and via video. Our office has locations across Houston, Harris County, and even into San Antonio. With no charge associated with meeting with our lawyers, what do you have to lose? This is a potential short-term investment into your long-term future.

Meeting for the first time with a family law attorney

When you decide to meet with a family law attorney it is normal to be apprehensive. You may end up learning things about yourself, your situation, and your family that you had not intended to. See, many times a person in a bad situation with their family finds themselves in need of a wakeup call- a splash of cold water to their face. We can sometimes bury the bad and accentuate the positive as human beings. This isn’t a failing on your part. It’s human nature. We don’t want to acknowledge that some elements of our family lives may not be working well. So, what do we do? Bury our heads in the sand until we can’t bury it any deeper.

Reaching that maximum depth with your head in the sand often leads directly to meeting with an experienced family law attorney. However, before you walk into our office for a consultation there are some things that you should think seriously about before you go any further. That’s not to say that you can’t come into our office with no plan and without a clue about anything as to how a family case works. That’s fine if you do. We will be happy to meet with you and will sit patiently and listen to what you have to say.

However, if you want to maximize the opportunity to meet with one of our attorneys there is another route that you can take before you decide to go and meet with us. That route would be to prepare as diligently as you can beforehand. Preparation can mean a lot of things to a lot of different people. Surely, you can remember how different people prepared for school in college or high school. Your idea of preparation may have been completely different than another person’s idea. Therefore, we do not want to assume that you are going to do something when it comes to preparation that may not be practical for you. Different people have different aptitudes and different preparedness levels for these consultations.

When you prepare to meet with one of our attorneys you can do so with basic information laid out about your case. This means being honest with yourself about what you are going through. Be prepared to tell the attorney the truth, in other words. When a new client signs up with our office, we will often ask him or her to have a “skeletons in the closet” conversation with us. This means that you need to be prepared to discuss matters with your attorney that may make you uncomfortable or embarrassed.

Do you need to have a skeleton-in-the-closet conversation with a prospective attorney? Not necessarily. Ultimately, it is your decision whether to do so. However, if you think the attorney should know something that could assist him or her in representing you then you should consider mentioning that even in consultation. The attorney cannot discuss the matter with anyone else even if you do not end up hiring him or her. That way, he or she can have a head start when it comes to preparing their strategy for representation if you do decide to hire the lawyer.

Understanding that it is just as important in a family law consultation to be able to listen as it is to talk is another lesson or piece of advice that you may not receive from many other sources. From these sources, you may hear a lot about how to give certain amounts of information to the attorney when it comes to the details of your case. Many times, he will receive this type of information from an attorney who is trying to figure out whether or not to take your case. While it is true that an attorney with our office will be evaluating your case and determining if you will be a good fit with our office and vice versa, it is also important to be able to listen in one of these conversations to the information that an attorney will be providing you with.

Please bear in mind that the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan look at these consultations as an opportunity for you to gain information about what may be an area of the law that you have little knowledge of. We never assume that you or any other potential client possesses any level of knowledge when it comes to your case.

Rather, we do our best to help you sort out what is necessary information for your case and what can potentially help you as you begin to learn more about family law and whether you need to file a family law case. The better equipped you can be when it comes to the beginning of a family law case the better off your family will be. Additionally, the better equipped you can be for a case the better client you would be for our office. Therefore, benefits all parties to be able to ensure that you have a certain level of knowledge when it comes to the beginning of your family law case.

Do you know how a family law attorney bills?

One of the most important parts of initial consultation with an attorney from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan is that we will talk to you about how a family law attorney bills when it comes to representing you in a family law case. By no means will our office try to hide from you how our attorney’s bill or the structure by which you will be paying us. Simply put, family law attorneys bill by the hour. When you see advertisements on the Internet or television for a flat fee divorce, you should immediately raise your red flags. If an attorney bills you a flat fee for a divorce, it either means the attorney will ridiculously overcharge you, or they will undercharge you to a ridiculous extent, leading to underserving you in the case.

Rather, our office bills by the hour as do most family law attorneys. Billing by the hour means that the attorney from our office will simply use their hourly rate and assess a charge for each 15-minute increment of work performed on your case. This means that for every e-mail sent, phone call from opposing counsel taken, hearing attended, or mediation session you will be charged based on the work performed. The general rule of thumb is that the more work your case requires the more expensive the case will be. Time, in this sense, does not necessarily equal money. However, time spent working on your case does equal money and will increase the amount of money billed to your case.

A family law attorney will also bill you a retainer. A retainer is something akin to a down payment. That down payment will secure the attorney’s services on your behalf. Retainers can vary depending on the situation and the complexity of your case. For example, if you are hiring our office to represent you in a divorce and you have a hearing the following day or within a week or so then the retainer will increase. The reason for this is that we know that there is a set amount of work that must be done in your case in a relatively short period. This is as opposed to a child custody or divorce case where there has not been a hearing date set for any matter related to the case.

Additional retainers may be necessary for a trial, for example. When you have something like a trial coming up in your case your attorney must have the funds necessary to adequately prepare. Anyone telling you that you want to hire the attorney who charges the least amount of money may not be steering you in the right direction. You want your attorney to be able to charge a fair amount based on their skill, experience, and track record of success.

Be prepared to assess the attorney based on your gut feelings about him or her

Ultimately, hiring an attorney to represent you in a family law case is a major decision for you to make. Unfortunately, you may have little to no experience in hiring an attorney. You can look at that attorney’s reputation as far as what is being said about him or her online and you can ask around for people’s recommendations. However, all of this is to say that how you feel after meeting the attorney can make a huge difference in helping you decide whether to hire him or her to represent you in your family law case.

We at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan encourage potential clients to meet with us in person whenever possible. Although we often conduct business by phone or video these days, meeting someone in person offers significant benefits. You can get a better feel for the person you are meeting with. You should seek every little advantage in this regard. While a person might make a strong impression over the phone, meeting them in person can trigger something inside you, helping you discern right from wrong. For this reason, we believe meeting an attorney in person can be highly beneficial.

Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

If you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog post please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free-of-charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as about how your family’s circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.

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Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC Today!

At the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, the firm wants to get to know your case before they commit to work with you. They offer all potential clients a no-obligation, free consultation where you can discuss your case under the client-attorney privilege. This means that everything you say will be kept private and the firm will respectfully advise you at no charge. You can learn more about Texas divorce law and get a good idea of how you want to proceed with your case.

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