Meeting with a family lawyer for the first time can be stressful. Many are unsure of what to expect and feel some anxiety because of that. At Kolinsky Law in Edmonton, we strive to make your experience as comfortable and stress-free as possible. Of course, the nature of why clients come into a lawyer’s office is generally and often stressful, but we aim to reduce your stress as much as we can by communicating clearly and creating step-by-step processes to approach your legal matters. As such, we have compiled some recommendations on what you can do to best prepare for your consultation with a Family Law Lawyer.
1. Be Open and Honest
For many people, it is difficult to open up in the first meeting. You have just met the lawyer, and do not know what to expect. It is very important, however, that you give an honest account of your situation and any issues that are sensitive to you or your family. Remember that the consultation is private, and cannot be discussed with others without your permission, except in the case of child endangerment.
2. Bring All Documents
Start by making copies of all the documents you have collected so that your family lawyer will have them for your file. Depending on your case, the documents you might need include:
- Marriage certificate
- Any current or past orders made that are related to the case
- Application to Obtain an Order or to Change an Order
- Prepared Financial Statements
3. At the beginning of your consultation, your lawyer will collect basic information about you and your situation. Your lawyer may want to know:
- Your name, any previous names, address, occupation, annual income, and date of birth,
- Your spouse’s full name, address, occupation, annual income, and date of birth
- Your marital status prior to this relationship (single, widowed, divorced)
- Your partner’s marital status prior to this relationship
- Alberta residency information and other citizenships of both partners
- Information about the relationship, including the date the two of you started to live together, the date of your marriage and the name of the city or town where you got married
- The date of separation
- The full names and birthdates of any children
- The care arrangements and any parenting plans that are presently in place for the children
- Any prenuptial agreements
- Any potential and believed risks, including family violence, abduction, and financial risks like bankruptcy
- Why the relationship ended
4. Your lawyer will want to know your financial information and may ask for:
- the approximate balance of all financial accounts, including savings, RRSP, investment accounts, and the names of the financial institutions holding the accounts,
- All assets
- The amounts of any debts, including credit cards, loans, lines of credits and where they are held
- information about any stock or bond portfolios,
- Pension plan information
- Real estate owned in Alberta and elsewhere, including address, value, and how ownership is divided.
5. Get Organized, Take Notes and Ask Questions
Throughout the consultation, you may want to write down notes and any questions you may have along the way. Your lawyer may have a lot of information for you and will want to collect many details from you, so this can be the best way to ensure your questions get asked either during the flow of the conversation or after. Sometimes it is most cost-efficient to ask several questions at once. In order for your lawyer to serve you better, you must fully understand your case and the entire legal process.
6. Discuss Costs
Your lawyer will discuss fees during this meeting, and you should be prepared to as well. If you want to discuss payment plans, retainer information, and written fee agreements, the consultation is the time to do so.
7. Read all Documents Carefully Before Signing
Before you sign a document, ask your lawyer to fully explain it to you and then read it thoroughly. Be prepared to spend some time going through documents in-office.
8. Keep your own files
Ask for copies of all documents prepared for your case and build your own file to keep at home.
9. Listen to your lawyer
Finally, always remember that, at Kolinsky Law, your lawyer is looking out for your best interests and the best interests of any children involved. The lawyer’s judgments and decisions are based on legal knowledge and training, as well as extensive experience so it is important to listen to your lawyer and think about what your lawyer asks you to do. We are here for you and what is important to you.