Before I take on a new divorce client, I invite them to my office (or these days, we can meet over Zoom if that is preferable) and we hold an hour-long complimentary consultation.
Ideally, you will walk away understanding the “lay of the land” around your situation, and for both of us to find out if we will work well together. In today’s blog post, I’ll give you a rundown of exactly what to expect in the complimentary consultation so you can be as prepared as possible.
Getting the Lay of the Land
When my staff sets up the appointment, they’ll ask you several basic questions to get a general idea of what your case is about.
They will also make sure we don’t have a conflict of interest. If it’s a family law divorce case, when you come in for our session, I’ll give you what I call the Divorce 101 Seminar. Essentially, I explain how things proceed in a divorce case in Colorado.
In a divorce proceeding, you can file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage (divorce) or you can file for a Legal Separation. You can choose to file it as You vs. Your Spouse or you can file jointly. I explain that the soonest you can get divorced is 91 days, and when the 91-day countdown clock starts ticking (hint: it’s not when you had your first fight or when you started sleeping in separate bedrooms).
We’ll cover your obligations, the preliminary injunctions that prevent you from doing certain things once you’ve filed for divorce. I’ll walk you through the chronology of the divorce process.
Next we’ll switch gears. I explain that, generally, there are six issues in a divorce case, and three of them have to do with kids: decision making, parenting time and child support. The other three are adult issues: maintenance, division of property and attorneys’ fees.
At this point, most people are unfortunately overwhelmed, but in my mind, it’s better to give you too much information than not enough. Somehow, the divorce process is not as daunting when you have an idea of how things work.
We Won’t Talk Specifics
When you come in for the initial consultation, don’t be surprised when I decline to discuss the specifics of your case. Questions like, “Can I keep the house? Can I get sole custody of the kids? Will I have to pay child support?” Are things I cannot answer without knowing the full details of your case.
When I was a young attorney, a man came to my office for a complimentary consultation. I gave him my Divorce 101 Seminar and, after I was finished, he said, “I need to know if I have a decent chance of getting our vacation house. I pay half the mortgage and it’s in joint names. What do you think?”
I told him that, based on the information he provided, yes. But he had failed to mention that he and his wife had a prenuptial agreement that specifically stated he wouldn’t have a claim to the vacation property, because his mother-in-law had contributed a huge down-payment.
When I saw the prenup and told him there was no way he’d get the house, he became furious and accused me of lying to him. I didn’t have all the facts of the case, so I shouldn’t have given into his demand and gotten into specifics.
This is why we won’t go down that path in our initial consultation. Once I have all the information, I am happy to dive headlong into specifics with you.
Are We a Good Fit?
Finally, I’ll end the session with a statement about myself. I am a firm believer that I can be a great attorney, but I know that I’m not everyone’s cup of tea. I try to make sure that my clients know what they’re getting so we minimize the chances that we can’t work well together.
If, after you’ve slept on it, you still want to work together, we will get started. Call our office today at 303-449-1873 to set up a complimentary consultation.