Have you decided to get divorced and you’re curious what happens during a family law initial consultation with an attorney?
Hi, I’m Marie Drake of the Drake Law Firm. And today, I’m going to talk to you about what happens during a session like that,what kind of strategy is provided to you, the person who’s just decided to get divorced and is about to see a lawyer. First, the most important issue for parents in a divorce is, of course, the children. What’s going to happen during the divorce and after the divorce with the kids? So I always say back up, we have to look at this from 30,000 feet. The big issues are will you have joint decision making or do you want sole decision making? And decision making includes medical, religion, and education. Decision making isn’t necessarily Susie can’t go over to Bobby’s house during daddy’s parenting time unless, of course, Bobby’s parents are cooking meth in the kids playroom in the basement, then maybe we have something else to talk about. But other than that, these are we’re talking bigger decisions and we’re talking overall parenting time schedules. The next issue most people are worried about is money. And by money, I mean, who pays for the debts?
What about all the equity in the house?
If you’re in Colorado, chances are you have some equity in your marital home. And what about retirement accounts? And then, of course, are you the parent who raised the kids or you’re still raising the kids and you don’t even have a job and the other parent’s the higher income earner?
Do you get some spousal maintenance, spousal support? And how does that drive child support? Will child support be enough to live on? Probably not. So these are the big issues that should be answered, at least in a general way, during that initial consultation with your lawyer. The third issue that should be addressed by an attorney in an initial consultation is strategy. By strategy, I mean, first, is there an immediate emergency issue going on that is going to take precedence over everything else? And by that, I mean, is there domestic violence going on? God forbid, child abuse? Have you been falsely accused of domestic abuse? Or is there a drug or alcohol addiction issue that has to be addressed immediately? So that really is something that has to be talked about and should be talked about at that initial meeting. The second part of strategy is what are your expectations of the process?
If you think you can walk in and get some kind of crazy 1950s [alcocable] divorce in ten minutes, you’re in the wrong state and you’re in the wrong decade. But what it takes is that about nine months, sometimes twelve to get a divorce in Colorado. If you settle every issue, everything’s amicable, we can get that done for you in about four months. But that has to be addressed, and your expectations need to be reasonable. So hopefully, whatever attorney you consult with will keep those in check and keep those reasonable and realistic. The third part of strategy is, is there an advantage to filing first? And there used to be. The only possible advantage now is that a petitioner could maybe drive the litigation a little bit more than a respondent. But it’s not really the advantage that it was back in the 1950s when we did litigation by ambush. Well, not we. I wasn’t born yet, but you know what I mean?
The other things you should look for in a consultation are some general tips. For example, don’t go on Facebook and Instagram and talk about your relationship. In fact, what we recommend is that you don’t post anything about your personal relationship or relationships during a divorce. It’s just not fair to anyone, it never turns out well, and half the time, these are exhibits in a hearing, these screenshots of you ranting. So don’t do it. That’s a general warning. And then also, what about self care? So I always encourage and suggest, and our law firm does anyway, that people consider counseling Such a big life-changing event as divorce, it’s just important to make sure that you’re talking with someone neutral about it and that you have a place to go to talk about it. There’s other tips such as, you know, don’t numb out with recreational drugs or alcohol or shopping or don’t become a workaholic during the divorce.
What you need to remember is that it might be best to take a walk. To sit down with your kids and have dinner and everybody puts their phones down. And to just do some general things to reassure your family and also to reassure yourself, and that’s just something we always suggest. Those are just a couple of things to expect in a family law initial consultation. But with our firm in our consultations, we also suggest a few other things, including don’t post anything on social media, please. There’s going to be screenshots and video of you ranting on Facebook or Instagram or wherever that’ll end up as exhibits in court, and no one wants that.
So don’t do it. Just shut it all down. And another thing we suggest always is don’t numb out with recreational drugs or alcohol or workaholism or shopping or whatever. Just try to center yourself. Have dinner with your kids where everybody has to put away their phones. Take a walk with them. Take a walk with yourself. Get into counseling. There are so many things you can do to help you through this life-changing process of divorce. And what we try to do is sort of give you sort of warnings, but also a menu of how you can take care of yourself through the process. The initial consultation I just described is not your free drive-by fifteen-minute consultation that you see on billboards. Instead, this is an actual strategy session that can last 60 minutes or more, you do pay for it. But we’re your attorneys during that time. I mean, we can actually give you legal advice during the time you’re in front of us, either on Zoom or in person, and we can provide an overall strategy of the process of divorce for you individually. And if you’re interested in that, give us a call here at The Drake Law Firm. We’re happy to schedule the consultation and give you that strategy going forward.