Are you looking at booking initial family law consultations?
If you have never seen a family law lawyer before, speaking to a family lawyer can be intimidating. It may help to ease your nerves if you know what will happen at the initial consultation.
This will help you follow through with booking and attending the meeting.
1. Setting Up Initial Family Law Consultations
First, pick a family lawyer you want to meet. When you call them:
- be ready to provide your full name
- the full name of your spouse’s full name
- the names of any other parties involved
- details about your case
You need to book an hour to meet with a lawyer. This gives you time to discuss your case, instead of a sales pitch “free consultation.”
The names of the interested parties are required for a law firm to run a conflict search. All law firms are required by the Law Society of Upper Canada to run a conflict search.
This ensures that they are not and have not acted for either party in a capacity that will cause a conflict of interest. This step needs to be completed before any lawyer can give any advice.
Sometimes the conflict search can be completed over the phone and sometimes it requires that the law firm calls you back shortly after completing the search.
Either way, after the conflict search is complete, we will be able to set up your initial consultation at your convenience.
2. Attending at the Appointment
Before your appointment, make sure to gather all relevant documents that you have in relation to your issue. For example, if you are dealing with property, make sure to bring items like bank statements.
You will also need to bring investment reports, pension statements and property valuations.
Alternatively, if you are dealing with a child or spousal support issues, bring in your income tax returns. Don’t worry if you forget something or if there are additional documents, you can send them to your family lawyer at a later date.
Just make sure to at the very least have a rough idea about the values of these items.
At the appointment, you can expect to spend about 60 minutes talking with a family lawyer. You will spend a significant portion of the time explaining the situation to the lawyer.
You will have to go through the details of your matter. The more information you can provide the better. You will discuss items such as:
- any children of the relationship
- important dates in the relationship
- employment information for both spouses
- details about any property owned by you or your spouse
Initial Family Law Lawyer Consultations
As a first step, you should provide details about your situation to the lawyer. They will give you an overview of the law in relation to the relevant legal issues and how they may impact you.
It will be difficult for lawyers at this stage to give you an exact picture of how the matter may unfold or possible results. However, they will be able to give you a good idea of the options to resolve your dispute.
They can then provide the estimated costs and how long they may take. The lawyer will give you an idea of the strategy they would take and their hourly rate or a flat fee.
At the end of the appointment, decide if you are happy with the lawyer’s strategy and rate. You can then discuss retaining the lawyer.
The lawyer will then have a retainer agreement drafted for you to sign outlining the lawyer-client relationship. You may sign the retainer agreement at the consultation or at a later date.
Before leaving, make sure to ask any final questions that you have to the family lawyers.
What Documents and Information Do You Need to Give Your Lawyer?
When sorting through the history of your relationship, it can be difficult to distill what you need to give to your lawyer at your initial consultation and subsequent meetings.
It can be tricky trying to decide what information is relevant and what documents your lawyer will want to see.
When setting up the initial consultation or gathering documents after retaining your lawyer, clients often ask for examples of relevant documentation they should bring.
- Personal information such as your address, occupation, annual income, date of birth, etc.
- Your spouse’s personal information, such as full name, address, occupation, annual income and date of birth;
- The information regarding your relationship: when you started dating, when you moved in together when/if you got married when/if you separated;
- The full names and birthdates of any children;
- The relationship status of you and your spouse at the time you entered into the relationship;
- The status of your discussions with your spouse, e.g. have you discussed a separation, division of property, custody of the children, reached any agreements or discussed how things will be handled etc.; and
- Any emergent concerns that you feel may need to be dealt with quickly, such as a parent moving away with a child or a spouse making claims that he/she is going to dispose of large portions of joint property.
Initial Family Law Lawyer Consultations: Checklist of items
- Any court documents you have received (IMPORTANT);
- Your marriage certificate;
- Your income tax returns – both full income tax returns and notices of assessment for the last three years;
- Financial documents for all bank accounts and investments showing the approximate value on the date of separation and the institution where they are held;
- Credit card statements as of the date of separation;
- Loan statements showing the value on the date of separation, including mortgage statements for any property you own;
- Documentation relating to any pension plan you hold, including statements and information regarding your pension plan administrator;
- Any receipts for paid support;
- Any written agreements previously reached between you and your spouse in relation to the issues.
This is just a start to the list of documents. Not all of the items will be applicable and there may be additional items that are not on the list but are still relevant to your specific matter.
At the end of the day, gather anything you think is relevant to give to your lawyer. Your lawyer will be able to help identify any additional documentation they need to see or if any of the documents are irrelevant.
If you have questions about initial family law lawyer consultations, contact us. We will connect you with a law firm.
Author: Alistair Vigier is the CEO of ClearWay Law