When hiring a lawyer you probably have a goal in mind. Working with a lawyer will help you to determine the legal steps to achieve that objective. It may relate to financial matters, answering a claim, or perhaps some other objective. Whatever your goal, we can help using three simple steps.
When hiring a lawyer you probably have a goal in mind. Working with a lawyer will help you to define your objectives and understand the legal steps to achieve them. Generally, documentation will be required in order to assess the financial and legal aspects of any case. The first step therefore focuses on assembling the information required to make decisions about how best to move the process forward.
Clients seeking legal assistance have varied starting points—some come with specific goals, while others need guidance on their rights before envisioning their future. In either case, the lawyer assists in establishing realistic objectives by understanding the client's desires and offering informed opinions, thus enabling a collaborative pursuit of a shared goal within the framework of legal principles and procedures.
"Financial disclosure" in legal cases refers to necessary documents proving financial aspects. In family law, exchanging these documents establishes financial positions, with clients legally obligated to provide full disclosure. We help clients obtain these documents early on, enabling calculations for support and property division based on applicable principles, generating legal advice, and empowering clients to make informed decisions for their financial future.
Hiring a family lawyer helps clients adapt their objectives as a case evolves. Legal outcomes often depend on the evidence each party can advance. A lawyer can help guide a client through this process. We work with clients to ensure that their objectives remain in line with realistic legal outcomes.
The second stage of working with a lawyer involves understanding rights and obligations that apply to your case. This process has its origins in the first stage, and begins as we work with our client to set some objectives. That said, a client’s rights and obligations often come more clearly into focus after the client has assembled the required documents.
Based on the facts our client gives us, we do our best to evaluate and explain the likely legal outcome of the case. This process starts at the very first interview with a client. Our legal opinion typically gets more precise once the client has provided all the facts and documents required. We then advise the client about the various possible outcomes. This opinion often evolves as the case progresses so as to take ongoing developments into consideration.
After understanding your situation, we clarify the legal expectations for both you and the other party, which may include obligations such as support payments or property transfers. These obligations are balanced by the other party's rights to receive them. Based on this assessment, you can choose to pursue a negotiated agreement or, if necessary, resolve matters through a court proceeding. Either way, compromise from both parties is typically needed for a resolution.
Sometimes a bit of compromise saves the client more in legal fees than the cost of the “concession” that generates settlement. We ask clients to bear this in mind as we move to the final stage of the family law process.
From the outset, a lawyer should aim to settle a client's case as swiftly as possible, whether by negotiation or litigation. To do so, the objectives and documents identified at the first stage of the process should establish the client’s rights and obligations at the second stage. Together, these steps in the process have established the foundation a client needs to generate a settlement position. The next step involves bringing about the desired settlement.
If parties negotiate a Separation Agreement, they typically need full financial disclosure and independent legal advice for enforceability. This minimizes the risk of court interference. Negotiation involves lawyers preparing and exchanging a draft agreement based on client instructions. Once a final draft is agreed upon, the parties sign to conclude their case. Parties may also explore mediation or arbitration for dispute resolution, depending on the situation and cost considerations.
If parties are unable to reach an agreement, they may resort to the court for resolution, although it lacks the efficiency of negotiation. In the court process, conferences with a judge are held to explore settlement options, with most family court cases settling before trial due to the significant costs involved. If an agreement is not reached during a conference, we guide our clients on the next steps towards resolution, continuing negotiations as the case progresses, while considering the costs and potential benefits of settlement.
No client should instruct a lawyer to pursue a claim for less than the cost of the court proceeding. For that reason, we ask our clients to compare the projected cost of litigation to the value of any issues in dispute. Suffice to say that saving time, legal fees and aggravation, provides a major incentive to avoid court if possible, and to compromise before the matter proceeds through further litigation.