About Hiring & Working With Your Family Law Attorney

About Hiring and Working with Your Family Law Attorney | About Working with Legal Assistants
About Financial Disclosure in Family Law Cases | About Wills, Living Wills, and Powers of Attorney
About Domestic Violence | About Divorce

About Hiring and Working with Your Family Law Attorney

Do you give free consultations?

Most family law attorneys charge for an initial consultation. Free consultations are usually offered by personal injury attorneys, who receive a percentage of any settlement or judgment they obtain on your behalf as payment. However, Florida law prohibits “contingency fee” agreements in family law cases, so our office charges a discounted hourly rate for an initial 30- or 60-minute consultation. After that time you pay for advice on the basis of the attorney’s normal hourly fee. This seems to work for our clients.

What happens in the initial interview?

The initial interview in our office is conducted by an attorney who makes a judgment as to what can be done about the problem presented. You are given an overview and specific advice about your specific situation. The attorney may recommend alternatives outside of legal action, and may also consult with another attorney in the firm who has more experience about a particular issue. A general estimate is made of the cost of pursuing different avenues for resolving the problem presented.

How much is this going to cost me?

The legal and emotional process of family litigation is often frustrating and longer than expected. The atmosphere is generally tense because of emotions and what is at stake in the litigation. Legal fees and costs vary greatly depending on the complexity of your legal or factual issues. The cost also depends on how willing you and the other side are to work cooperatively in resolving the dispute. It costs a great deal more to repeatedly go to court or to obtain withheld information needed to make an informed decision. Some matters are resolved for several hundred dollars in a short time. Other matters take years and tens of thousands of dollars to bring to a conclusion. An attorney can give you an estimate of what it will cost to pursue your case at the initial consultation.

What is the best approach in working with an attorney?

Lawyers are people too. Let us know when we are doing a good job as well as when you are not happy about something. This is the best way to display mutual respect for each other. We will do the same for you. Lawyers tend to want to serve clients who are polite, friendly and appreciative before serving unpleasant clients. We probably won't respond as well to you if we are the substitute target for misplaced hostility, resentment, anger and bitterness.

We must treat each other with mutual consideration and courtesy at all times. We ask that you be responsive, reasonable, honest, polite, pleasant, receptive to our advice, and that you pay our bills promptly.

Will the information I give to by attorney be kept confidential?

Yes, all information you provide to your attorney or our staff in a case is confidential and is protected by attorney-client privilege. No one can force your attorney or staff to turn over information you have given them unless that information is going to be used to commit a crime.

How honest should I be with my attorney?

Tell us all we need to know. All information you provide us is confidential. We cannot help you without knowing all of the facts. We understand if you are nervous or afraid to tell us. If it helps to write it out, write it out. Answer all direct questions as accurately as possible. If you do not know, don't be afraid to say so. There are often many things we don't know or can't answer. No one has all the answers all the time. All attorneys have a duty to the fair and impartial administration of justice. It is our experience that honesty to the Court is the best policy. The most damaging evidence may be presented in such a way that the Court understands the reasons for a particular "damaging" fact. Be open and honest with us. Be honest when you testify in Court. The Court cannot give an appropriate ruling if you haven't been honest.

Will the attorney keep me informed throughout the case?

Attorneys have an ethical obligation to keep their clients informed about the status and progress of the case. Your attorney should send you copies of all relevant documents, letters, and court pleadings received or sent in your case. Our office automatically sends you a copy of every letter and pleading even before the attorney sees it to assure that you always know what is going on in your case. We do this without charge to you because it is important that you be kept informed about your case. The more informed you are, the more you can do to work with your attorney to solve the dispute, and keep the cost down.

In early 2006 Thompson Family Law instituted a procedure that could speed up the process of keeping clients informed. If you have a safe e-mail address and would like to receive letters and information on your case as it occurs, we can send you copies of documents by e-mail.

When we generate a document, we will e-mail it to you within 24 hours. When we receive mail, we will e-mail to you the same day that we receive the mail. This service allows you to have access to the same documents as your lawyer without having to wait for delivery by mail.

Ask your attorney about using this e-mail method of communication.

What kinds of payment plans are available?

Our office accepts cash, checks, American Express, MasterCard & Visa. We can also offer monthly payment plans. You should discuss payment options with the attorney at your initial consultation.

If your question has not been answered here, please contact us.