by Mary Ellen Flynn, Esq, Attorney
What should you know before consulting with a divorce attorney?
Taking that first step is the most difficult, whether it’s toward a new beginning or simply understanding your options. Regardless of your reason for consulting with a divorce attorney, there are some expectations you should be aware of before diving headfirst into the process:
- Trust that your information will be kept confidential.
Trust that your personal information given to an attorney’s office will be kept confidential, so do not hesitate to provide basic personal information when asked. For example, when you contact an attorney to schedule a consultation, you must provide them with your name and your spouse’s name from whom you are seeking a divorce. Your name and spouse’s name are necessary because the firm you contact must perform a conflict-of-interest search. The conflict-of-interest search is essential because attorneys are ethically bound to refrain from a matter if there is a conflict of interest. For instance, if your spouse has ever called the same attorney you are seeking a consultation with and provided specific facts regarding your marriage, that would constitute a conflict of interest.
- Understand that your questions will be answered during your consultation and not before.
If you call an attorney’s office for the first time to discuss a potential family law matter, not all your questions will be answered by an attorney right away. You will often speak with a law clerk or paralegal the first time you call an attorney’s office. The office’s law clerks and paralegals cannot give you legal advice. Still, they may provide you with basic information such as what information you will receive during your consultation and general information about how the litigation process works. Although this is a very difficult time in your life, understand that you must wait until your consultation to have all your questions answered and receive legal advice.
- Be prepared for your consultation.
Bring any documents you feel are relevant to the attorney’s attention (or their paralegal’s attention) for your consultation. For example, if your spouse has already filed in court for custody or a divorce, be sure to provide any relevant court documents to the attorney’s office. In addition, the attorney’s office will likely request that you fill out certain forms. Your consultation with the attorney will be as productive as possible by filling out these forms.The attorney may also ask you about marital assets, such as your spouse’s income, joint and individual retirement accounts, savings accounts, checking accounts, etc. Suppose you don’t have access to this information before your consultation. In that case, it’s nothing to worry about; Inform your attorney of the situation, and your attorney will advise you of steps to be taken in the future.
- What to expect when consulting with your prospective attorney.
First and foremost, the attorney is there to give you legal advice and answer all your questions. Depending on the complexities of your case, the attorney will share advice and answer questions regarding the different approaches to the divorce processWhile discussing these various aspects of a divorce, the attorney-client privilege is in effect, which means that the attorney cannot divulge any of this information to anyone outside of that law firm.
- The decision of whether to retain an attorney is solely yours
You are not required to retain the attorney with whom you consult. There are numerous reasons why individuals decide not to retain an attorney, whether it be financial, lack of rapport with that specific attorney, not agreeing with their legal advice, or you simply would like to see what other options there are. Whatever the reason may be, you can take your time in deciding whether to retain an attorney and whether it is the best option for your particular case.
About Andalman & Flynn, P.C.: Founded in 1998 in downtown Silver Spring, Maryland, Andalman & Flynn has forged a distinguished reputation for legal excellence. The firm represents individuals seeking disability benefits throughout the country and practices family law throughout Maryland and the District of Columbia. The firm focuses on cases that impact the rights of everyone, and are there for clients when responsive legal help is most critical. The firm has provided legal analysis on national and local television and radio, and their attorneys often testify before legislative bodies and are routinely invited to contribute to prominent legal publications. For more information about Andalman & Flynn, please visit the website at andalmanflynn.com or call 301.563.6685