Most people who find themselves confronted with divorce have no experience with the legal process and have never hired an attorney. So, what can you expect when you have that first meeting with a family law attorney?
While all attorneys approach things a little differently, there are several things you can expect when you meet with a divorce attorney for the first time. Most consultations last from thirty to sixty minutes. Some firms offer a free consultation (ours does) and some firms charge a fee for the initial consultation.
The goal of the initial consultation should be twofold: (1) You want to get to know enough about the attorney to decide whether or not to hire him or her; and (2) You want the attorney to get enough information about your case that he or she can give you a good idea of what your case will involve and how he or she would handle it.
When I meet with a client for a divorce consultation, I generally start by having the client give me background about their situation. What has gone wrong with the marriage? Have they tried counseling? Does the other spouse want a divorce? Are there children involved? Have the spouses already reached any agreements? I also ask what county you live in, because that can impact how the case proceeds. (Most of my clients are in either Dallas County or Collin County.) After I have learned as much as I can in that short period of time, I set forth what I think the likely scenarios are for their particular case.
It can be difficult for an attorney to give an exact fee estimate. Although some attorneys will handle divorces on a flat-fee basis, that usually only applies to purely uncontested divorces. With a contested matter, it is impossible to know exactly how many hours the attorney will need to spend on the case. However, the attorney should be able to give you a good idea of how fees are calculated and what ballpark fees would be for various scenarios.