I provide an initial consultation that lasts up to an hour and a half, in order to provide a detailed discussion of the client’s situation, and consideration of the best options for handling the case. I take my consultations with clients very seriously, and try to obtain as much information as possible so I can give the best possible advice. A legal consultation is also an opportunity for the client to assess me as an attorney, and determine whether I am the right attorney to handle the client’s case. I welcome client questions about my experience and my approach to cases. It is important that all clients feel comfortable with their choice of attorney, and that communication between client and attorney be open and honest.
If the case appears to be one that could be resolved by using other options besides litigation, such as collaboration or mediation, I will discuss and explore those options fully with the client during the consultation.
Clients who have a possible custody and/or visitation issue should plan to tell me about their children in detail, including current developmental stage of the children, the history of care, children’s interests and activities, special needs if any, relationship with each parent and with relevant family members, and the position of each party regarding custody and visitation. Such a discussion can also include an anticipation of adverse issues which may be brought up by either party, as well as problems such as substance abuse or domestic violence.
When there are support issues involved, clients should bring copies of their most recent tax returns (Federal and State, with all attachments), recent pay stubs or other documentation of earnings of both parties, and come prepared to give me an estimate of the monthly expenses of each party. Sometimes a client does not have ready access to all these documents, so I ask that clients bring me what they have, and give me reasonable estimates regarding whatever they do not have.
Sometimes issues of domestic violence may be present in a relationship, whether present or in the past. I generally ask each prospective client if these issues exist, as they can affect the outcome of a case in many ways. If these issues are present, I will provide full information as to the client’s options for protection of themselves and of the children.
Clients going through divorce or dissolution of domestic partnership will need to provide full declarations of disclosure, regarding all assets and debts each of them has. I therefore ask clients to come to the initial consultation prepared to give me a summary of the couple’s assets and debts, including approximate values and loan balances, if known. This information will also be helpful in assessing property division issues in the case.
I encourage questions from clients, and give ample opportunity throughout the consultation for clients to get their questions answered. Prospective clients are encouraged to bring a list of questions, and to feel free to augment that list during our discussion.