When and How to Hire a Family Law Attorney

Unfortunately, many people do not seek timely legal advice. The sooner advice is obtained, the better. Initial legal consultations are usually at a low cost or free.  As the saying goes, “There’s no harm in asking.”

There is no requirement that you be already separated to seek advice.  In fact, seeking advice and being legally prepared, as best as possible at the time of actual separation, may even result in making your case proceed more efficiently and affordably. Information is extremely important and critical documents and records are usually more readily available before separation than after. You should make sure to have copies of bank statement, tax returns, credit cards and balances, as well as a general idea of personal property inventory.

When seeking legal advice, it is important that you are comfortable with the individual who may end up representing you, in short, who you consult with is important.  Consider who will be actually working on my case, the attorney or staff member? And what fees are going to be charged for their respective times? Do I pay both the staff member and the attorney to talk to each other about my case?  Does that seem fair to pay for multiple billing?  Is that fair to me as the client?

A word to the wise, do not let yourself be taken advantage of by counsel who is spending an excessive amount of your valuable time talking about themselves and other cases, and not your situation.  While that may be interesting, remember, if you have hired this attorney, you are probably being billed for that time.  Also, divorce is an emotionally charged event. While a compassionate, supportive attorney is key, an attorney that spends excessive amount of time commiserating with you, will also be billing you for that emotional non-legal support. A trained therapist or member of your clergy might be better suited for that role. And much less expensive!

Hiring an attorney is a significant decision that can have repercussions for years.  Not only must you be comfortable with your attorney to discuss emotional and sometimes personal issues, you must feel confident that your viewpoint is being heard and your concerns are being addressed in a professional manner.

The attorney-client relationship is unique. So unique that is “privileged” by statute. Don’t be afraid to say, “thank you for your time” and walk away from a consultation if it just doesn’t feel like a good fit.  Frankly, unless you have a solid reliable referral to a particular attorney, it is best to meet with and discuss your situation with more than one attorney before making a choice. Viewpoints, objectives and personalities are all different. You should and must feel comfortable and confident in your attorney’s ability. Some of the best attorneys may come across as blunt and to the point. That is their job to be your advocate, so assertiveness is a good thing. Don’t be scared off because you don’t hear what you want to hear about your case. An attorney with integrity will give you an honest assessment of your case.

How soon you obtain advice and retain an attorney often depends on the circumstances of your case.  If your situation is already “uncomfortable” or “unacceptable”, it is important to seek to remedy that situation as soon as possible. If a situation exists, for example I am not being allowed sufficient contact with my child or children, it is critical to seek the assistance of the Court for a reasonable custodial order as soon as possible. This is necessary so as to avoid what the court may determine to be the “status quo” at a later hearing, leaving the situation uncorrected. Don’t wait until it is too late for even the most competent counsel to help you.

Call the Law Office of Robert C. Bergen.  Come in and discuss your case. You’ll feel much better about your circumstances if you’re not trying to go it alone. We’re here to help.

Law Office of Robert C. Bergen

Serving Orange County, CA



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