1. When will an attorney provide consultation services?
There are at least three instances when a client may obtain consultation services:
- Persons seeking legal advice as to various family law issues, often at the commencement of their case, contact this office. Knowledge of the possible legal impact on the issues in a case will provide both self confidence and a road map for the individual. Consultations are provided on a variety of family law issues including but not limited to pre-marital and post-marital agreements, paternity, dissolution, custody, child and spousal support and property issues. The consulting attorney provides advice only. The consulting attorney is not the clients legal representative or attorney of record.
- Persons who are self represented and wish to obtain direction and legal advice throughout the process contact this office. Their consultations are confidential and the timing and amount of meetings is determined by the client. The consulting attorney is not the attorney of record. The client continues to be self-represented.
- In a mediation case, parties often each hire consulting attorneys. The consulting attorney may provide both legal advice and strategy throughout the process. When a final resolution is obtained, the consulting attorney will often review the final documents and provide advice. In most cases, the consulting attorney is not the attorney of record. An exception would be the case where a client hires an attorney and then chooses to work with a mediator. That attorney may remain as the attorney of record, providing consultations during the mediation process.
2. What is the role of the consulting attorney during a family law matter?
The role of the consulting attorney is different from the role of an attorney who represents the client in a family law matter. Rather than administering the case, a consulting attorney will respond only to specific requests for counsel and advice. A consulting attorney’s advice and recommendations are constrained by the information provided, since a consulting attorney is not obliged to independently gather information on a clients behalf.
3. What are some of the matters a consulting attorney will address?
A consulting attorney may review matters such as the following:
- To explain formal legal procedures available in a family law matter;
- To explain legal rights, including the context of the advice and the limitations and conditions upon which the legal advice is based;
- To assist in determining whether a proposal is consistent with a persons financial goals;
- To assist in determining overall objectives;
- To offer advice in formulating and implementing negotiation strategies;
- To provide advice about tactics and strategy during the negotiation process;
- To assist in evaluating whether the mediation process meets an individuals needs, objectives and abilities;
- To offer advice about finding and using experts such as custody mediators, family therapists, tax specialists, appraisers, and financial planners;
- To review and analyze the reports of any outside experts;
- To help identify and locate separate and joint assets;
- To review documents that are relevant to the family law matter;
- To draft, review and process the formal legal pleadings required to obtain a Judgment of Dissolution or other stipulation, order or judgment relevant to the matter;
- To explore settlement options;
- To determine and explain the practical consequences of various property divisions and support divisions; and
- To discuss various parenting options.