Family Law Consultations

A client can have many reasons for seeking a consultation with a family law lawyer. A consultation may require only a single visit to obtain legal advice, or it may take a series of visits. Here are examples of some recent consultations:

  • to understand a legal advice column from a newspaper or online chat room
  • to receive feedback on  a wish list compiled ahead of mediation where the client is unrepresented
  • to understand the consequences of taking an action such as income splitting with an adult child or disposing of a second property before or during a divorce process
  • to seek advice on how to move through a roadblock
  • to meet a lawyer before retaining her
  • to have a court order explained in plain language
  • to understand the interplay and tax consequences for financial child support and spousal support

A client needs to be able to trust the lawyer selected to respond to the questions competently, confidentially, and at a reasonable cost. Requesting a consultation for half an hour’s time isn’t sufficient for the client to learn about what the lawyer has to offer, or for the lawyer to understand the background and context of the client’s questions. As is often the case in family law matters, a question is really only one piece of the puzzle. To respond properly to a question, the lawyer may have to understand what all the related circumstances are, what people are involved, and what their roles are in the situation. The lawyer should have the opportunity to explain to the client the risks and consequences of any answer provided in reply to the issue raised. Other times, though, a simple question really does have a simple response.

To respond properly to a question, the lawyer may have to understand what all the related circumstances are, what people are involved, and what their roles are in the situation. The lawyer should have the opportunity to explain to the client the risks and consequences of any answer provided in reply to the issue raised. Other times, though, a simple question really does have a simple response.

Conflict of Interest

A family law lawyer cannot act for both parties to a conflict. Until the lawyer is advised of the legal name(s) of the others involved in the dispute, the lawyer will be unable to meet the client for a consultation. A consultation cannot proceed without the client providing current photo identification to the lawyer at or prior to a face-to-face meeting.

Trust and Competence

Being able to trust the professional giving advice means the client will be attentive and engaged, and leave empowered. Building trust with a lawyer means the lawyer:

  • explains different possible approaches to resolve the client’s dispute
  • encourages the client to ask questions and receive immediate answers
  • listens to the dreams, needs, hopes, and beliefs of the client, as they are worthy of notice
  • is prepared for client meetings
  • provides advice directly to the client without layers of staff
  • explains the legal accounts to the client for legal services, not administrative tasks
  • explains that significant instructions require the client’s written permission to proceed
  • immediately informs a client of unexpected turns and the possible impact on cost, the approach, and the time to resolve outstanding matters
  • keeps the client in the loop even during inactive times

Urgent matters and long-term concerns require a lawyer experienced enough to know which approach will best assist the client, and how to effectively bring the client’s needs to the attention of the other spouse or partner. The lawyer offers her good judgment and common sense, valuable skills and tools, to support the client in making appropriate decisions.

Due Diligence—Sharing Financial Knowledge

A lawyer first stepping into a client’s world needs to become acquainted with more than what is currently happening. To understand the present circumstances, the financial picture from both sides needs to be understood. It would be bad business to conduct a transaction without due diligence; so too would providing legal advice without knowing all the facts—financial and other—and the client’s needs.

Privacy and Confidentiality

From the moment a client contacts a lawyer, the identity of the client is confidential and cannot be disclosed by the lawyer without the permission of the client.

Read Lorisa Stein’s Privacy Policy.