One of my most helpful services to potential clients is the Consultation. If you are considering divorce the Consultation provides the best opportunity for you to understand what divorce is going to mean for your family. Divorce permanently affects a family and forever changes you, your spouse and your kids. It is one of the most important decisions you will ever make. In 80% of divorces, one person does not want to divorce. In my experience that figure is more like 95%. Whether both of you are coming in for the consult, you are coming to me as the one who is being divorced or the one who is seeking the divorce, we need to discuss how and why this divorce is happening. These facts play a crucial role in understanding your picture.
I generally offer three types of consults:
Joint Consult – Sometimes couples are contemplating divorce but have not yet decided on whether they are actually going to divorce and, if so, what process are they going to use. One of the smartest moves couples can do early on is to come in for a consult together. A joint consult is NOT a legal consult in the sense that I am not offering either of you particular legal advice as to your individual situation. Instead, both of you together, on equal footing, get “educated” about divorce and separation in Florida and how it may affect your family. We discuss the general issues involved in divorce, what the law says on these issues and ways they are addressed in a divorce. You will learn about alternative dispute resolution options and how to move forward using these options. You can also learn about what it means for each of you to be represented within the legal system as well as using representation outside the legal system. We can discuss and explore marital resources which many couples have chosen to implement. Couples are often interested in hearing my experiences with other couples who faced marital crisis and what they did about it. The joint consult can play a significant role in whether the couple moves forward with divorce or not and, if so, what kind of process might work best for them.
The joint consult does not give either party specific legal advice as to their unique perspective. Each of you would need to consult with an attorney of your choice for a legal consultation as to your particular rights under the law. I perform this consult in my role as Mediator. I will ask you all questions you probably do not want me to ask or that neither of you have asked yourselves. I call them, “reality checks.” I will help you see the big picture and not let you focus on inconsequential legal or factual issues. I will talk about the cost of trial and the uncertainty of the outcome as well as what it means to amicably settle and how to get there.
Mediative Consult – Many couples contact me interested in pursuing Mediation as the process for their divorce. My first step with you is the initial consult. This is a great way for you to become familiar with my process and with me as your mediator to make sure we are all a good fit together. Also, for many people, they think mediation is a quick and cheap way to resolve their divorce. Having been mediating a long time, I know that couples often misjudge the process and fail to take into account disagreement, time delays due to disagreement, appropriate legal review of an agreement, cost, and whether either party or both should have consulting counsel to help the process. Furthermore it is key to have the mediator at the consult look at the issues you two are negotiating. Divorce is a complex business transaction and where there are children, things can get even more sticky even when couples feel like they have it all figured out. The consult is the opportunity to get clear on all of these issues and, if still choosing to move forward with mediation, to do so knowing all your options as to how the process can best work for you.
The Traditional Individual Legal Consult – Whether contemplating divorce, a post divorce matter or even a co parenting issue, a legal consult helps you see the strategy moving forward, the strengths and weaknesses of your situation and whether you are comfortable with the attorney you are meeting. Understanding your best alternative in court to a negotiated settlement early on is key. Keeping your eye on this is even more key because emotions ratchet things up causing people to engage in more risky behavior that is usually not in their best interest. Early analysis of your goals both under the law as well as in your situation is extremely helpful to maintaining perspective and making good decisions. Great care is taken in helping you choose your best course of action. The consultation is confidential and subject to the attorney-client privilege even if you do not retain me. Please understand that even though you may have decided you would like to engage my firm, I reserve the unconditional right not to represent you. There are many reasons I may choose not to represent you and it should never be taken personally.
1. For cases in which the client and I agree to representation, those cases will be worked outside of the litigation process using either a mediative approach, a collaborative approach or a negotiated approach. I do perform any necessary filings of Final paperwork or interim paperwork with the court.
2. In rare situations, where litigation may become necessary, my client and I have worked closely together to make a successful transition.
3. In a small number of cases, after the consult, I have recommended litigation to the client as the best course of action. In those cases we discuss what type of litigator you may need in light of facts like who your spouse is using, your personality, and how much money you are going to spend. While I do not usually make direct referrals, there are a number of attorneys in my network who are familiar with me and my process with whom clients have chosen to consult.