I think the analogy of a consultation with a family law attorney being like a trip to the emergency room is an interesting one. Any trip to the ER, unfortunately, starts with someone in pain, and also may involve that person not knowing what’s wrong. Like an ER staff, a family lawyer is there to determine your situation and to place you on the road to recovery.
In essence, that initial consultation works like an ER visit in that it helps you know what’s wrong, what to do, and give you a plan so as to not leave you out in the unknown. A consultation helps give you certainty and helps you understand how you can get back to normal.
The most important thing that happens in a consultation is for us to get the facts about your case so we can make a determination of what course of action is best. We want to determine whether your position is strong or weak, and if there are any ancillary issues to factor in.
If one party is in the military, we want to know that, as that may affect aspects of your case. If there’s domestic violence in your case, we definitely want to know that, as that will likely determine what route we’d go.
We also want to know what your priorities are for the divorce. You might want to go in guns blazing and litigate, but it might not be the best course of action for what you want to accomplish. We may determine, for instance, that keeping a case out of the courts may help you get what you want more expediently and with less risk, and so mediation or collaborative law might be the direction you’d ultimately want to go.
If we want to use the ER analogy, getting the facts is like getting the patient’s history, and doing the physical examination is what we do to synthesize the facts with our knowledge of the law. We give you our recommendation based on what we learn about your case and your position. After that, we come up with a tentative plan of action-which may need to be modified once we learn more about the opposing party.
We can also, like an ER doctor does, give you a prognosis about what we think might happen given what we know about the case. We also may, in the course of the case, learn things that will work in your favor. However, whereas a prognosis from an ER doctor is mostly going to remain the same as time goes on, a prognosis on your divorce can change drastically based on life-changing events out of your control.
In a consultation, we can also let you know what the various “treatment” options will cost. We make recommendations based on your budget and well as your priorities. Though we can’t predict with 100 percent certainty of how a case will go-just like an ER department can’t predict how long a hospital stay might be if you need to be admitted from the ER to a bed-we can give you a sense of what it will cost in best-case scenarios as well as with potential complications that might arise.
The Law Office of Lisa Vance gives people multiple options for settling a divorce. As I wrote in an earlier blog article, there are four main paths to get to a divorce decree, and we have lawyers who can serve as guides for each of those paths. As an ER visit might reveal an illness requiring a specialist, we can provide specialists in house to help you through litigation, mediation, collaborative law, or an uncontested divorce. But, like the ER, we can’t help you if you don’t come in-it’s better to know your options in how to get past your divorce and get back to being you.