The first step in hiring an attorney to represent you in a family law case is usually accomplished by an initial consultation. The purpose of the initial consultation is to get information about whether you need an attorney and to see if you like the attorney and can work well with the attorney. Your attorney will be someone you need to work with closely during your case, so you need to be sure you can get along with the attorney.
In a family law case, there are potentially five issues that need to be addressed at the initial consultation: divorce, child custody, child support, spousal support and equitable distribution. Under North Carolina law, a divorce is only available after you have been separated from your spouse for one year. The other issues may or may not be applicable to your case. For example, if you do not have children, there is no need to discuss custody or child support.
Aside from meeting the attorney (and the attorney meeting you), the purpose of the initial consultation is to determine what type of representation you need. The attorney will generally ask questions about the facts of your case, then discuss the how the law applies to your facts, and finally go over the options you have in moving forward. Since every family’s set of facts is different, the approach taken in a particular case needs to fit those facts. If you and your spouse already have a verbal agreement, you may only need the attorney to draft your settlement documents. On the other hand, if you and your spouse cannot even have a discussion, the attorney will need to be heavily involved.
Aside from the legal issues to be discussed at the initial consultation, there are three questions which are commonly asked:
- How much will this cost? This is a very difficult question to answer. The cost of a family law case depends on many factors. One factor is how many issues need to be dealt with. Another factor is whether you and your spouse can talk to each other and work out any issues in a settlement. If every issue will result in a dispute and having to go to court, the cost will be much higher. Also, if the issues involved in your case are complicated, such as a large marital estate to be divided, the cost could be higher.
- How long will this take? This question is very similar to the question about cost. If every issue in your case will be disputed and you will have to have a full-blown trial, the length of time is likely to be much longer. If you and your spouse agree to be reasonable and discuss the issues or go to mediation, the issues could be resolved fairly quickly.
- Will I have to go to court? It depends. Are there issues involving potential danger to your children or is your spouse selling property or draining money? If so, then you may need to go to court immediately to get in front of a judge. Generally, the best result is one where you and your spouse can work things out in a settlement. This could be accomplished by going to mediation or negotiations through your attorney. While going to court is usually the last result, sometimes it is a necessary step.
One tip: write out all of your questions ahead of time and bring the list with you. It is perfectly natural to be nervous when going into the consultation. However, the initial consultation in a family law case is a necessary first step towards getting your issues resolved.
Myers Law Firm, PLLC is based in Charlotte, NC and represents clients in the areas of family law, personal injury and civil litigation. Contact us today to see how we can help you at www.myerslegal.com, 704-376-3000 or email@example.com.