Cooperation and communication with your family law attorney. It is critical. It is the subject of this article. We’re not going to talk about how to find the right family law attorney for your case but instead what is expected of you and how you can maximize your chances of a good result once you find the attorney that will represent you.
You have all heard the expression “garbage in, garbage out.” This expression applies to your family law case. For example, you could hire the best family law attorney who is more than capable of handling your case and getting you a good result but you will not achieve any of that unless you give that attorney your full cooperation throughout the case.
Let’s go through the level of cooperation that is necessary regardless of the lawyer that you hire. We will also discuss how your family law attorney can make this cooperation easier to give during this difficult and emotional time of your life.
1. Communication: communicating on a regular basis with your family law attorney is a critical part of his or her representation as well as your ability to assist your attorney throughout the case.
While that does not mean you need to speak with your attorney everyday, it is essential that you either communicate by telephone or e-mail about the status of your case every week to two weeks. This frequency will be more regular during the busy times of your case including when you have a Family Court hearing coming up, are in the middle of important investigation or discovery (discovery is the process in which you and your spouse can request information and documentation from each other) or are approaching a settlement conference or trial.
Our family law attorneys communicate with our clients by telephone and e-mail at this frequency throughout the case. In fact, it is an extremely rare (if at all) situation where one of our family law clients does not hear from us in one form or another on a weekly basis.
2. Disclosure: disclosure is simply the truthful exchange of information with your family law attorney.
That means when your family law attorney asks you for information, you provide the information completely and honestly and do not hold back facts or documents in any way.
Your attorney is your advocate. He or she cannot do the job if you do not provide all of the facts about your case, your financial situation, the issues related to your custody and visitation of the children and any other relevant and requested documents and data. In other words, your advocate cannot be effective for you if you withhold information, even if that information may be harmful to your case.
Why is that? It’s because your family law lawyer cannot gauge how to use helpful information and be prepared to respond to weaknesses in your position and your case if you do not share everything with him or her.
Our Orange County family law attorneys make this process easier by being specific about the information that we request and making sure that once we receive the information from you, we review it and asking questions or express concerns that we have with what you provided. We don’t just take what you provide, thank you and move on. We understand that the family law process can be confusing for you and we also understand you may not completely get what we are requesting on the first try. That is why our attorneys take our time and are patient with you throughout your entire case to make sure that we collect all the relevant information, whether it is helpful to your case or not, so we can be the better prepared attorneys in court.
3. Contact information: this may seem like common sense but you will be surprised how many times one of our client’s spouses simply disappears during a case.
Fortunately we have rarely if ever had this happen to our clients but we actually see this kind of thing happen several times a year to lawyers we go up against. This is a combination of the other spouse changing phone numbers, moving or otherwise becoming unavailable without letting his or her lawyer know as well as the family law attorney failing to regularly communicate with his or her client so that if the client is missing, the family law attorney will know it well before a court appearance or other critical event in the case.
4. Let your family law lawyer do his job and be your advocate
It happens to lawyers. A client will not authorize the attorney to conduct the necessary discovery, follow through with information the lawyer needs to get, all in the name of “settlement”. Settlement is great. But settling for the sake of settling and before your case is ready is not smart. Be prepared to have your lawyer hand you a form to sign cautioning you that you are settling the case against his or her advice. In the alternative, you can let your family law attorney do his job and make sure you communicate regularly and understand the strategy, budget and process.
5. What is the role of your family law attorney in all of this?
The single most important thing that the family law attorney who represents you can do to make sure that you have the opportunity to cooperate, communicate and remain in contact.
It is a waste of time and money to hire a family law attorney for your divorce case and then not take that very case that you are paying good money for that lawyer to represent you seriously. This is another place where our law firm excels in its representation of our family clients. We make sure that the initial consultation and throughout the case that our client knows the importance of all these things and our family law client and us work hard through the cooperation, communication and aggressive representation to mutually achieve a fair result that is consistent with law.
Got questions? Are you ready to consult with one of our experienced family law attorneys? Want to look through our site first to see our client testimonials and case victories? We are ready to speak with you and will offer you an initial, affordable strategy session.