The idea of hiring an attorney is probably something you never really considered at any point in your life until now. You know people from high school who grew up to be attorneys. You know friends who hired attorneys to represent them in divorces. The thought never occurred to you that someday you may have to go ahead and hire a lawyer of your own in your divorce. Why would you? It would be a little odd to sit and think about your divorce when you didn't have to. You went along in your own married life not even considering that a divorce may be around the corner for you. Most of us would have been right there with you and never second-guessing whether or not your marriage was going to go the distance.
So here you are in anticipation of a divorce. You have no idea what to ask the attorney and no idea what the attorney is going to ask you if you choose to go and talk to one about representing you in your divorce case. All you know is that you have been talking to friends and family who have told you that you do need to hire an attorney. You consider yourself a pretty intelligent person and have known enough people who have gone through a divorce that you think you may be able to handle the case on your own. You even have a cousin who's told you that he thinks you could do it on your own.
Ask yourself this question before you determine whether or not you need to hire an attorney: what is at stake in your divorce? If you and your spouse don't have children and don't own much of any property then you probably don't even need to be concerned with what your lawyer would ask you in a divorce consultation. Yes, there is a benefit to hiring an attorney no matter what the facts and circumstances are in your case. Yes, all things being equal I would recommend hiring an attorney for your divorce so that you can have representation. However, some people do choose to go without representation in divorce and live to tell about it.
The truth of the matter is that there is no legal requirement for you to hire an attorney to get divorced in Texas. As I mentioned a moment ago people do get divorced without lawyers without too much of a headache. It does take a certain degree of patients, reading and writing ability as well as the time to file the necessary steps to get divorced. There is a specific process to follow and if that process is not followed exactly then you will not be able to get divorced. The courts do not make exceptions for persons without attorneys when it comes to following the steps.
Do you have a full-time job? Do you have children? Do you have a life that exists outside of your children and outside your job? If you answered yes to any of these questions and you probably do not have the time to commit to spending on getting a divorce. Having children with the person you are getting a divorce from means that your case has stakes that are too high for you to not commit to getting a divorce with an attorney. Don't risk harming your relationship with your kids or losing Visitation time with your kids because you did not want to hire a lawyer.
I completely understand in this day and age of the pandemic having some economic and financial insecurity. You may have lost your job early on and have only recently regained employment. Or, the job he used to perform may have gone away either temporarily or permanently because of the pandemic. Steady income has become a luxury for many of our neighbors in Southeast Texas. I am sympathetic and empathetic to the spot that these folks find themselves in.
However, if you find yourself not wanting to spend the money to hire an attorney because of economic insecurity in your household then you should understand that there are options for you. Some attorneys may be willing to give you advice on an informal basis or in a free of charge consultation. Other attorneys may even be willing to represent you for free in your divorce or at least will be willing to draft documents and provide other help for you along the way if full representation is not possible.
Did you know that there are attorneys that would be willing to represent you on limited scope engagements? The attorneys with our law office are very flexible in terms of the assistance that they can provide you within the context of a divorce. We are more than equipped to represent you from the beginning of a case through a trial and into your post-divorce life. That is our bread and butter as a law practice. However, we also are equipped to provide you with representation through the drafting of documents or even attending specific hearings or mediations with you.
If that type of arrangement appeals to you then I would recommend you give a call to our office today to set up a free of charge consultation with one of our experienced family law attorneys. We can walk you through the different options of representation that we offer to potential clients like yourself as well as the benefits of each type of arrangement. My point is that no matter what circumstance you find yourself in with your case or with your finances there will be an attorney out there who can help you. However, it is up to you to find that attorney that suits you and your circumstances best.
A consultation with a divorce lawyer: what to expect
You should be prepared to meet with an attorney before actually doing so. Going into a consultation, even if it is no cost to you, unprepared is not a good idea. It could be a waste of your time and I wasted the attorney's time for you to come in without any questions to ask or any answers to provide to the attorney when he or she asked you questions about your circumstances.
Come prepared with some specific information about your life. How much money do you earn per year? What is the state of your retirement accounts? How much money is owed on your mortgage? Even knowing basic information like this is more than many people are equipped to provide an attorney within consultations. I’m not saying that you need to have a file cabinet’s worth of documents with you in your consultation but it pays to be prepared.
Attorneys don't need to know your entire life story in one of these consultations. Remember to have the basic information ready to go in response to any questions that the attorney may have. Otherwise, you should let the attorney talk as much as possible. You are interviewing the attorney, remember. Not the other way around. You can be made to feel like that isn’t the case by some attorneys. If you start to feel uncomfortable with the attorney or that you are not being listened to then you should move along.
The questions an attorney will likely ask you in a consultation
You should come prepared with the basics as far as what type of Family law case you need assistance with. There are two basic types of family law cases: a child custody case and a divorce case. If you are married then you will need a divorce. If you are not married and have a case that deals solely with your children that he only had a child custody case. If you have already been to court before and have a court order in place then you may need an enforcement or modification lawsuit to be filed. Even knowing the basic types of cases like this can be a big help to an attorney who is trying to figure out how to help you.
The attorney will also ask you for some background information on your family. This means you should know the ages of your children, their grade level in school as well as any special needs that any child may have. You would be surprised to learn how many people don't know even basic information about their children. A great deal in a divorce or child custody case that involves children Requires you to make determinations and decisions based on their state in life. Not being able to guide the attorney on matters like this can be unhelpful, to say the least especially when you have a limited amount of time to go over things with the attorney.
Additionally, your attorney that you are meeting with will likely want to know what your goals are for the case. Again, you are not expected to know exactly how a divorce or child custody case works and whether or not the goals you have are realistic within them. However, it will be extremely helpful for that lawyer to understand what your goals are and how you arrived at those goals. The attorney can guide you better on what is and what is not a reasonable goal. From an attorney's perspective, it is always attractive to have a client who has reasonable goals and used a good and intentional thought process to arrive at those goals.
Being able to describe your goals to an attorney means that you must have given it some thought previously. Shrugging your shoulders and seeing where the chips fall when all is said and done is not a great way to approach a child custody or divorce case. Too much of your life is at stake in these types of cases for you to be lackadaisical or to not plan where you could have. The best advice I can provide to any person going through a divorce, in general, is to be intentional. That means being intentional with goal setting but also with learning about the divorce or child custody process.
An attorney will also talk to you about how he or she charges or bills their clients. The attorney may ask you if you have any questions about how he or she \charges their clients or collects fees. You should do a basic amount of research before meeting with an attorney so that you know how very well attorneys bill their clients. It is done significantly differently than a personal injury, bankruptcy, or general civil attorney.
Family law attorneys bill by the hour and charge an upfront retainer typically in 2000 to $10,000 range depending on the attorney and your type of case. Family law attorneys also bill by the hour meaning that for every hour of work done on your case on behalf of that attorney or their staff you will be billed for the work completed. Understanding how attorneys bill is crucial because you can then compare and contrast the anticipated cost of representation by an attorney so that you are more comfortable with hiring him or her.
An attorney should be interested to see if you have any questions for him or her. At this stage in the case, I can tell you that there are almost always two different kinds of people. The first is a person who has an inordinate amount of questions and would seemingly spend two or three hours with us if we allowed them to. There is nothing wrong with asking questions but sometimes the questions can be so far afield that it is impossible to have a conversation.
The other person that an attorney will oftentimes encounter in this type of consultation is one who has no questions of any sort to ask and states that he or she understands every aspect of the conversation. this is almost certainly not true and simply asking basic questions at this stage can be beneficial. He will not only learn a little bit more about family law but can see how your attorney presents him or herself.
What to do after you consult with an attorney?
ultimately you are interviewing attorneys to decide whether or not you would like to hire one to represent you in your family. There is nothing wrong with going on about your day and never following up again with that lawyer. Once you complete an interview with an attorney you can utilize the information you learned in the feeling you got from the lawyer to decide whether or not that is the right lawyer for you.
When you have decided on the right attorney for you and your family he should phone that lawyer's office is arranged to have a contract emailed to you or provided to you in person for your review and signature. The nice part about living in the year 2021 is that we can use technology to limit the number of steps required to get a divorce case started. Despite what some people say about attorneys the vast majority of family law attorneys would never do anything unethical to length and a divorce. Keep in mind that family law attorneys are just as busy as you and they too would want your divorce to be done in a professional manner where it can be resolved quickly. Now is a great time for you to be able to start turning in documents to your attorney and their staff.
If your spouse requests discovery during the case, then he Will be asking you for access to documents in response to questions. It will be incredibly helpful for you to have that information at your disposal now rather than to wait till the last minute for you and your attorney to after come up with it on the fly. This saves time and also money in the sense that you can do the work yourself for free. The more work that has to be done by your attorney and their staff means the more you will be billed by the lawyer.
Meeting with an attorney for a free of charge consultation should be in no stress, no anxiety type encounter. The attorney is not going to be rude or dismissive or anything like that. Remember that in these types of situations an attorney is more or less a salesperson trying to sell you on why to hire him or her over the attorney down the block. If you come prepared, ready to listen, and with information about basic aspects of your case you will have a fruitful consultation and will be able to answer any question the attorney asks you.
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 the circumstances involved in your case. Our attorneys and staff take a great deal of pride in serving our community and look forward to the opportunity to speak with you about how we can best serve you and your family.