If the day comes when you find yourself in need of a family law firm in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, there are things you can do to make your time with your family lawyer much more productive and cost-effective. Here are 14 tips on how to be a productive client and, at the same time, help your attorney achieve the best possible result without incurring excessive cost:
- Be prepared. In advance of the first meeting with your family law attorney, assemble as much relevant documentation as possible. For instance, in a typical divorce case, this would include (at a minimum) complete copies of recent tax returns, pay stubs for both you and your spouse, a detailed list of all assets and liabilities, and any legal paperwork already filed and/or served upon you.
- Be organized. Organize every piece of paper that you give to your family law attorney. Documents should be stapled, labeled and assembled so that information may be found easily. Shemtob Draganosky Taylor will do whatever is necessary to organize the documentation on your behalf, but it will take time and cost money.
- Be detailed. Keep a detailed diary of all significant events pertaining to your family law case and share copies with your attorney. A well-kept diary can be used to refresh your recollection prior to and/or during your hearing. Additionally, your attorney can use your diary to assist in preparing testimony in advance of a hearing.
- Document with pictures. In addition to documenting events in your diary, document what you can with photographs and/or videos. For example, if you decide to move out of the marital home, take photographs of the condition of the residence and all property that you left behind.
- Ask questions. There is no such thing as a stupid question. More often than not, questions from clients are highly relevant and serve as a basis for helping to frame the issues and develop strategies.
- Non-legal issues. If you need to discuss non-legal issues with someone, do not call your attorney unless you are willing to pay his/her hourly rate. While the attorneys at Shemtob Draganosky Taylor are very good listeners, it is to your economic and emotional advantage to discuss non-legal issues with your therapist, family members, friends, priest, rabbi, pastor, etc.
- Pay your attorney’s bills on time. If you cannot pay a bill within a reasonable amount of time, call your attorney and ask to work out some payment arrangements. If you are making a genuine effort, Shemtob Draganosky Taylor will work with you.
- Respond promptly to attorney inquiries. Promptly respond to calls and inquiries from your attorney. If it was not important, your family law attorney would not be contacting you. Furthermore, if you are being unresponsive, he/she will have no choice but to spend time and your money trying to get a response.
- When leaving a message, leave a phone number and availability. When you leave a message for your attorney (either on voicemail or through an assistant) leave your phone number and the time when you are available to speak. While your attorney likely has your number, it will take less time to call back with your number readily available.
- When calling your attorney, explain the reason for your call in the message. If you have left messages and have not received a response in a reasonable period of time, realize that there is probably a good reason why your call was not returned. Your attorney may be tied up in court or meetings, or handling an emergency situation. If the reason for your call is of an urgent nature, explain the situation to your attorney’s assistant or ask if you can speak with another attorney in the firm. If your call is not urgent, ask when they are expected to be available. You may also ask if an appointment can be placed in the attorney’s calendar for a phone conference.
- Do not believe everything you hear from family and friends. Do not believe everything that you hear from your spouse, family and friends as it pertains to your case and the law. Even though your spouse may act like he/she is trying to be friendly or accommodating, the reality is that they may be trying to get the best possible result for himself/herself. Every case is different. Just because your friend’s cousin got a particular result does not mean that you will have the same outcome.
- Do not sign or agree to anything without first speaking with your attorney. Attorneys are usually in favor of parties speaking and trying to reach amicable resolutions between themselves. However, an attorney can and will help you determine if the terms discussed are in your best interest. There is nothing wrong with telling the opposing party that you need some time to think about it and will get back to them after obtaining counsel. If the opposing party is pushing you to sign something on the spot, be suspect.
- Be discreet. Resist the urge to deliberately annoy or antagonize your spouse. If you do or say something that you know will annoy your spouse, be prepared for retaliation. Also, be prepared to pay your attorney who will, no doubt, get a call from the opposing counsel when your spouse calls to complain about your behavior.
- Be candid and truthful with your attorney. Lawyers do not like surprises. A well-informed family lawyer can be fully prepared to deal with potentially damaging information if and when it is raised by the other side.
Every family law matter is different. Call Shemtob Draganosky Taylor’s divorce and family lawyers in Montgomery County at (215) 544-3974 for a confidential discussion on how we can help with your unique family law matter.