Family Lawyers – What you should know about seeing one!
The most important thing you should know is that communication is the key in any client/family lawyer relationship. If you don’t tell your family lawyer s/he can’t know!
Some points to remember when dealing with a family lawyer:
- Don’t avoid saying something because you are embarrassed about it. Every experienced family lawyer will have been told so many heartbreaking, funny and just plain embarrassing stories, that they learnt long ago to expect anything. Remember that your lawyer is there to help you not to judge you.
- Answer their questions. This might sound obvious but so often people can get caught up with finally being able to get their story out to someone who is “on their side” that they just want to talk. However, when a lawyer asks a question, it is usually for good reason, based on being able to provide you with relevant and quality advice.
- Be upfront and honest. If there is an important fact you avoid telling your lawyer about for any reason, it will inevitably affect the lawyer’s ability to help you. If there are things you have done that you think might be “bad” for you, tell your lawyer as early as possible so that if something can be done to help protect you, the lawyer has the information available to be able to do so.
- Recognise the boundaries of the relationship. You should be able to talk comfortably with your lawyer, but they are not your counsellor (even though their work as a family lawyer sometimes borders counselling). A good family lawyer will provide you with referrals to other professionals such as counsellors if they think it is relevant.
Be as organised as possible. Most lawyers charge by the hour, and so if you save your lawyer time, you will save yourself money. When your lawyer asks for copies of documents, provide what you can in an orderly manner. You should also ask your lawyer whether they want 2 copies in order to be able to provide one copy to the other party (and save you photocopy or administrative charges). If your lawyer asks you to write out a history, do so in a chronological manner.