As you start your divorce case, you first need to know how to properly work with your lawyer. After all, you hired your lawyer for a reason: to help you with your divorce case. Depending on him or her for anything else in your life is likely not appropriate, as there are boundaries you shouldn’t cross with your lawyer if you want the best experience possible with your case. Here’s what you need to know about those boundaries as you start working with a divorce lawyer.
Most people hire a divorce lawyer with the goal of getting legal advice from the beginning to the end of the case. You’re paying a professional to help you with legal tasks you could not confidently do on your own. Thus, it’s your lawyer’s job to discover all of the facts through research, help you understand the law that applies to your situation and generally decide how to present your divorce case. It is not your lawyer’s job to be your friend or therapist, so avoid ranting to him or her about your former spouse, and don’t ask for advice regarding your personal life unless it is relevant to your case. If you need someone to talk to, the fact is that talking to a friend or even going to a licensed therapist is likely cheaper and more effective than trying to get personal advice from your lawyer.
If you ever have a question about which topics are appropriate to bring up with your attorney, ask yourself if talking about it with him or her will help with the case. You and your lawyer should be working together to problem solve, whether you have to help work out a custody agreement or figure out if your former spouse is hiding assets. The sooner you start working closely with your lawyer to solve these issues, the sooner your case will be resolved and you can start taking the next steps to get your life in the direction you’re hoping for.
Not all legal professionals have the same preferences when it comes to communication. Some want to set up an in-person meeting for every issue, while others prefer an email they can respond to as soon as they get a minute. Some like the convenience of scheduled phone calls or video conferences, while others leave it up to the client to decide how to communicate. But don’t assume anything about the law office you’ve hired. Ask your divorce lawyer how you should contact him or her. You should also ask how to get in touch with him or her — or at least a staff member — if you have an emergency and need a fast answer. For example, if your child’s other parent disappears with the child and you have reason to believe he or she is in danger or is not coming back, you’ll need a way to reach your lawyer immediately to find out what to do. Fortunately, most legal offices offer ways to get in touch in case of emergency.
Resist the urge to bring your whole family or friends to your lawyer’s office. They might offer support, but they can also be a distraction. There might also be some information you’d like to keep private from them. This can make it difficult for you to tell the truth to your lawyer when they are present, unless you can remember to ask them to leave the room as needed. And avoid bringing your children to your appointments, as they may distract you and keep you from communicating effectively with your lawyer. If you don’t have anyone to watch your children, consider emailing your legal concerns to your lawyer until you do, or schedule a phone call from home.
Many people rely strongly on the fact that their lawyer is not supposed to reveal any of the information they tell him or her, due to attorney-client privilege. But this privilege doesn’t always apply. For example, the second you tell your lawyer something while a friend is in the room with you, you can no longer depend on attorney-client privilege, which is another reason not to bring people to your meetings. Also, if you schedule a phone call with your lawyer but then put him or her on speakerphone with people around, your conversation is no longer private and subject to the attorney-client privilege. Essentially, you need to treat your communications with your lawyer as private and worth keeping confidential, or else the law won’t.
If you already have a divorce lawyer for your case, now you can continue your communications knowing which boundaries to respect. But if you’re still looking for a lawyer to represent you, come to the Edgar & Dow. Our staff is caring and compassionate, and we offer a free consultation to discuss your divorce case.
California is ranked as the second most expensive state for child support, second only to Hawaii. This is primarily due to the…
Determining Child Support in California When determining child support in California, the two primary factors the court will consider is the income of…