When a person decides to hire our office to represent him or her in their divorce I always do my best to make that person feel comfortable with our office and with me as a person if I am assigned to their case. Even though you just paid money to have a relationship with our office and to have us advocate for you, your children and your rights in a divorce, I do not have the mistaken belief that you are automatically ok with disclosing every detail of your personal life to us. It takes trust and time to develop a relationship where you feel comfortable as a client telling me all of the important information that could impact your divorce case.
It isn’t that lawyers are nosey or want to judge your personal life. Not at all. Rather, a divorce is an inherently personal matter that requires a great deal of communication about issues that are very personal to you. Your attorney didn’t make up the rules or the system of law in our country, we just operate under those rules the best we can in an attempt to help you achieve your goals. At the end of the day it is you, the client, who holds the cards that can help you succeed or fail in your divorce.
Today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC will cover the subject of what is, and what is not, advisable when it comes to speaking to and communicating with your attorney. There is information out there that you will be eager to share with your attorney. There is information out there that you will not be eager to share with your attorney but is important nonetheless. Finally, there is information that you have knowledge of that you do not need to bring to your attorney’s attention. We will do our best to go through each category and provide you with tips and tricks that can help strengthen your case and your relationship to your attorney during a divorce.
Sharing is caring when it comes to your divorce attorney
For starters, if your attorney has asked you for some information on a particular subject you ought to do as you are asked and provide it to him or her. Obviously if you have a question about why that information is important you should ask your attorney and your attorney should be able to provide you with a response justifying the request. Once your questions have been answered go about the business of obtaining the documents or information your attorney has asked you for. I understand that this will take some effort on your part but remember that your attorney is on your team. This is not busy work for the sake of doing busy work. It is helping you prepare a case that can help you to minimize the length of your divorce and to help you accomplish your goals, as well.
Piggybacking on the previous paragraph, most attorneys will ask you to submit a questionnaire type form that requests basic information about you, your spouse, your children and various other subjects related to your divorce. If you have a specific question about this form by all means address those questions to your attorney. However, once your questions have been answered you should answer each question to the fullest extent of your ability. These questions are basically your attorney’s way of tapping you on your shoulder to tell you that this information is necessary to their representing you. Don’t make it like your attorney has to pull teeth to get the answers. Sit down with the television off and your phone put away and answer the questions.
What’s more, if you have information that your attorney needs you should consider organizing it and synthesizing it yourself rather than relying on your attorney or their staff to do so for you. First of all, if you learn more about your case in doing these things then that is the ultimate benefit for you. Second, if you can do the work yourself it means that your attorney’s office does not have to. That saves time and also money in that time equals money as far as an attorney is concerned. Going about your divorce with a do it yourself attitude can help you develop some familiarity with your case and can prevent unwanted delays. Remember- although your attorney should be providing you with a certain level of attention, your case is not the only one your attorney has.
Skeletons in your closet? Let those bones out for the sake of your divorce
If you have a criminal history or have been involved in a CPS investigation do not wait until the day of a hearing or mediation to tell your attorney about it. We were all more excited to turn over our report cards to mom and dad when there were “A’s” aplenty written down. We weren’t so excited when a few “C’s” wound up on the report. My point is you may not be enthusiastic when you tell your attorney that you had a DUI last year with your child in the vehicle but your attorney needs to know this so that he or she can formulate a plan to overcome that bad-fact.
An example of this scenario is a case I had last year involving a young man and his two children. Now, this was not a divorce case but will illustrate my point nonetheless. In this particular case our client was attempting to cause the return of his children to Texas after their mother had up and left the state without his knowledge. We had attempted to negotiate some sort of settlement with the other side but were unsuccessful prior to a temporary orders hearing.
The day of the hearing the opposing attorney takes me aside and brings up the fact that my client was living in a home with his mother and a few relatives. This came as no surprise as the client told me about his living arrangements early in our relationship. What he failed to tell me was that one of those relatives was an uncle who has a history of committing sex crimes against minors. This was a bombshell that my client verified was true.
When I asked him why he didn’t tell me about this he said that since it was a “big house” and his uncle lived on the first floor of the home he didn’t think it was important to tell me. Keep in mind that we were at the hearing to tell the judge that the children were better off living with my client in his home because there was a built in support system with numerous relatives living in the home and also close by. A sex offender in the home blew that strategy out of the water. My client was in a position where going before a judge was not a viable option so we settled on temporary orders that day in order to have my client remove himself from the home prior to a trial/mediation date.
Be wise when you call your attorney with a question
Your attorney should be able to answer any question you have about your case. Don’t assume that because you don’t understand something that it is your fault. It is likely that your attorney did not explain the issues well enough.
With that said, be wise about calling your attorney for every question that you have during any given week. Remember that every call you have with your attorney costs you money. It is fine to pay money for legal advice but it is not wise to call your attorney fifteen times a week with questions. Rather, write down your questions and see when your attorney is available to take your call during the way.
How not to talk to your attorney will be the subject of tomorrow’s blog post
We will begin tomorrow’s blog post by discussing how not to talk with your attorney and what subjects need not be involved in your relationship. After that, we will get into particular aspects of your divorce case and how to approach each.
If you have any immediate questions about today’s blog post topic or any other in family law please do not hesitate to contact our office. We offer free of charge consultations six days a week with a licensed family law attorney.