Making the Most Out of a Divorce Lawyer's Free Consultation
If you decide to file for divorce and hire attorney, he or she will learn about intimate details of your personal life: problems in your marriage, the way you parent, fights you’ve had with your spouse, and all your financial details. Finding a lawyer that you trust with your most personal information is not an easy task. It’s important that you find someone you have confidence in and can have a rapport with during this difficult time. The best way to find out if you and your lawyer can work together is to utilize the divorce lawyer’s free consultation if they offer one. These are often short – 15 to 30 minutes – so you need to walk in prepared.Have Your Questions Ready
It’s okay to bring in a list of things you want to know. It can be things pertaining to your case: how much child support could I owe? What’s the judge like? How do I start? But it should also include questions concerning the administrative details of your case: what are the lawyer’s fees? What’s their background and experience? How long will this take? Are they available for their clients? Make sure you take notes and write down any pertinent information you obtain. Don’t be afraid to ask pointed questions such as whether they have any disciplinary history, how they bill their clients, and whether they have taken on cases similar to yours.Be Honest
You are in a lawyer's office to get accurate information. But a lawyer cannot give you accurate information if the details you tell them are not true. It can feel uncomfortable divulging this information before you meet someone – but everything you share with them is important, and it will all be confidential. What is most important is that you do not waste your time or theirs by providing incorrect information. To that end, when the lawyer starts asking you questions, you must be honest and direct. If you are very uncomfortable about a specific topic, remember – this is just the divorce lawyer’s free consultation, and you have not yet hired them. You can respectfully indicate that you're not quite comfortable sharing that information unless you decide to hire them for your case.Come Alone if You Can
First off, it is generally a bad idea to bring minor children in to a divorce lawyer’s free consultation. Law offices are not meant for children, and since it's a family law office, your children are likely to be a topic of discussion. Many lawyers will refuse to speak to a client if the minor children are in attendance. And while it can be tempting to ask a friend or parent to come with you for moral support, it is better that they do not come into the consultation room with you. First, it affects attorney-client privilege. A third party can be subpoenaed by the opposing party to reveal anything discussed in the meeting between you and the attorney. That is a massive risk you take when inviting a friend or family member into the room. Secondly, friends and parents always have a different perspective on your relationship and might try to take over the consultation. This is not their divorce or custody battle – it is yours. But feel free to bring them along and have them read a book in the lobby if you don't want to arrive alone.Bring in Documents
It is never too early to let a lawyer look at financial documents in a divorce case. Clients who can bring in a few recent paystubs, tax returns and bank statements will be able to get more specific information on questions regarding child support and property division. If you can get your hands on both you and your spouse’s information, this can be so helpful to the lawyer to answer your questions. It can also help you decide whether and when you’re ready to file for divorce. Bringing these documents to a divorce lawyer’s free consultation will maximize the time you spend with them in that initial meeting.Ask Questions and Listen to Your Gut
This is your case. You should use the time you get in a divorce lawyer’s free consultation to ask as many questions as you want so that you can leave the meeting feeling more confident about your options and the road ahead. If the lawyer seems irritated or impatient with you, make a note of that. Do not be afraid for them to break down a concept for you if you don’t understand it. And always listen to your gut. If you don’t connect with the lawyer, or something seems off, then do not feel pressured to hire them. There are plenty of other decent and competent lawyers that would be honored to assist you in your family law case.
If you want to set up a divorce lawyer’s free consultation with a New Jersey lawyer, contact the Law Offices of Peter Van Aulen at (201) 845-7400.