Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Family Law Part 1: The Initial Consultation

Written by Jordan J. Mruz.

My name is Jordan Mruz and I am currently in my third year of practice at Fye Law Office. My practice does not have a focus per se, but family law cases are a large portion my work up to this point and I hope it will be for years to come. This will be first installment of an ongoing series where I will discuss the various aspects of different family law cases.  Look for future posts that will include discussions about what is required of you by statute, what a final trail may look like, and anything in between.

Are you married and considering getting a divorce? Are you considering leaving your significant other with whom you have children? If your answer is yes to either of these questions, you may be considering speaking with an attorney. This post will hopefully provide you with some guidance on what to be prepared for when you go to meet with an attorney.

One of the first things someone asks me over the phone is usually, “Do I need to bring anything?” The correct answer is (in true legal form):  maybe.  If you have a previous court order (and you are seeking to modify this custody order), then this is a great piece of information to bring to your consultation. If you cannot find your copy, your attorney should usually be able to look up the case. You may have text messages or emails from the other party showing a threat against your safety or claiming they will never let you see your child. You may have school records that show your child being absent from school for extended periods of time when they are staying with the other party. These are the kinds of things that can be helpful to prove your case. There is not always physical documentation of the evidence you need and I meet with many people in this position.

Many people come into my office and simply do not know where to start. I encourage these people to start with simple things such as: who the other party is, whether your are married, where you were married, when you were married, names and ages of children. These questions usually allow the person to open up and get to the more intimate details of why they need assistance. Tell the attorney your story and they will guide you through how that story plays out with the legal system. They will explain to you the basic process of a divorce/custody action, what will be required of you by the court, as well what the potential outcomes are for your case.

No two cases are exactly the same, so your attorney may explain how based on the information you provided, what direction they believe your case will take. I believe it is the best practice to tell the people I meet with what they can realistically expect for an outcome. I do not believe in telling people simply what I think they want to hear (that they will absolutely get X, Y, Z, etc.). I believe these types of open and honest opinions about the case early on can help the case reach an ultimate resolution with greater ease.

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