DO’s AND DON’TS ON YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR DIVORCE LAWYER
Kelly Chang Rickert, Attorney at Law
California State Bar Certified Family Law Specialist
Law and Mediation Offices of Kelly Chang, A Professional Law Corporation
Copyright 2000 – 2020
Dos and Don’ts With Your Divorce Lawyer
DO YOUR JOB.
I want truth.
Tell me the truth. In order for me to be at my very best, I need you to tell me the whole truth about your legal matter, even if it is unpleasant, and even if you think it hurts you. Remember, our success depends on the accuracy of the information I receive.
Return my calls; comply with my requests.
Return my phone calls and emails and promptly comply with my requests. During the course of my representation, I may ask you to do some things to help me help you. At such times, please do your part and promptly comply with these requests. Remember, you are paying for my time, which includes nag time.
Ask questions and listen to my answers.
Ask questions. If at any time you do not understand something that is, or is not, happening, please ask questions.
Always pay your bills.
Pay your bill timely. Remember, in order to represent you, I rely on services and staff, whom I have to pay. I have a business to run. If you do not pay your bills, my services will be terminated, no matter how much I like you. It’s not personal – it’s business.
ALLOW ME TO DO MY JOB
I commit to you my best effort.
My commitment is to give you my best effort. I commit to give you all of my experience, training, and energy in my representation of you.
I’ll return calls as soon as I can.
To promptly return your phone calls. I understand how important it is that your phone calls be promptly returned. I will make every effort to return your call the same day, and at the latest, within 24 hours.
Honesty is my Only Policy
To be honest with you. I will tell you the truth as I honestly see it.
Keeping You Informed
To keep you informed. I am aware that your legal issues are very important to you. I do not take your trust for granted, and I plan to keep you fully advised about the progress of your legal matter.
Step by Step
To tell you what is going to happen step by step. I intend to tell you as best I can what to expect before it happens, so that you are not surprised or confused.
To treat you with respect. You are my client, and as such, you deserve the utmost respect from your attorney.
Explain the Law in California
Explain the law in California on issues of divorce, annulment, child custody and visitation, child support, spousal support, property division, and restraining orders. What is an annulment? Can I do this between filing and Judgment? What is an RFO? Does date of separation matter? How much support can you expect to pay or expect to receive?
Explain procedure of the court. How long will this take? What will the Judge be like? What can you expect when you make this particular demand? Is it worth it to go to court?
Represent you in court. I will be your voice. I will step into your shoes and tell your side of the story, convincingly and appropriately. I will speak the language of LAW for you. I will pacify a grumpy Judge who doesn’t like excessive verbosity.
Represent you to opposing party and counsel. You are a good person. You have reasonable demands. I will be on your side, arguing for your demands.
Protect your interests. You have rights defined by the law. You need to know your rights, and how to enforce them. Your lawyer is your protector.
Creatively argue the FACTS to best support the LAW. We can’t easily change the law, but lawyers are gifted at spinning FACTS which can get you the most you need under the law.
Dos and Don’ts With Your Divorce Lawyer
What Your Divorce Lawyer CANNOT Do
Cannot Change the Law
Change the Law. Times change. Laws change. But let’s be realistic, will the laws change during your divorce? Probably not. The 401k you acquired during the marriage, with no prenup? That is community property. We can’t change that. Your wife isn’t working and hasn’t worked for 10 years? You need to pay spousal support. Even if she cheated on you? That’s right. You have to pay spousal support. We can’t change that. You are a stay-at-home mom with a law degree with 2 school-aged children and you never want to work a day in your life, and want to collect support forever? You will eventually need to find a job. Child support terminates at age 18, or 19 if in high school. Spousal support – depends on many other factors. But unless you find another source of support, you WILL need to find a job. We can’t change that.
Make Your Decisions For You
Make Your Personal Decisions For You. I can always give excellent advice and counsel on legal issues. For example, is $2500 a fair amount of support to pay, for 10 months? Is your parenting plan reasonable under the circumstance? Can you move to Hawaii? However, I can never tell you to get divorced.
Speed It Up
Speed Up the Process. You can trust me to deliver prompt service. However, I cannot control the other side. Or their lawyers. Why is it taking so long? It only takes one party to drag out a case. I promise you that unless it is due to strategy, I will not purposely prolong your case. Also, I do not control the courts. I promise that I will get you the earliest mediation and court appointment. However, I can never promise you’ll get a trial date by January 2018, or an RFO date by January 30, 2018. I do not control the court calendar.
Predict the Outcome with Guarantee. I have a lot of experience with the court system, and family law. It is my job, and I do it well. However, I am not God. I do not have a crystal ball, and I don’t have sixth sense. I am human, and I err. So do NOT rely on me to tell you, to absolute perfection, what will happen if we go to court.
Understand My Role; Don’t Take Me For Granted
Understand my role and do not take me for granted. I am your lawyer. Some of my clients – I even consider my “family”. But I am NOT an on-call robot, and barring true emergencies, I cannot respond to your calls after-hours, or on the weekends. I cannot give you my cell phone number. You have my email, and during work hours, you can expect a response, same day. There are times we may look at and answer your email over the weekend, but this is generally the exception and not to be relied upon by you that we are accessible on weekend.
We Are Not 24/7
Finally, We Cannot Be Your Personal, On-Call, 24/7 Advisor. We understand that your case is important to you. And we honor that. You have our word that we do not take our clients’ trust for granted. Please understand – there may be other clients in a similar situations. If I am in court on the day of your emergency, I simply cannot tend to you immediately. I am very fortunate to have very competent staff, who are always here to respond to your needs. However, if you need to talk to me, you will need to make an appointment. I will do my best to get to you ASAP.
When you hire us, you can expect reliable, competent, and hard-working lawyers. But we aren’t perfect. And likewise, we can expect that you are truthful and dependable and you will pay your bills. And we also know you may not be perfect.
Knowing this can help us build a solid relationship, prevent divorce lawyer burnout – a step towards world peace.
Soon all that’s left are bad divorce lawyers. You don’t want that, do you?
Do and Don’ts with Your Divorce Lawyer