For an optimum outcome, there are certain things that both you and your family law attorney can, and should, do. Whether you are getting divorced or haggling over joint custody or community property, litigants have both rights and responsibilities — and so do their attorneys.
Below are some important things to understand about your relationship with your legal adviser.
Attorney-client privilege in inviolable
Except in very specific and limited circumstances, your relationship with your attorney is privileged. You should speak freely to him or her without worrying that your words can later be used against you.
Your attorney cannot properly represent you and your interests if they do not have all of the facts. The worst thing for an attorney is to have opposing counsel reveal in court some glaring omission of which the client failed to inform their counsel. This effectively hamstrings your attorney and can result in your not prevailing in the case.
Help your attorney build your case
The two of you will need to work together to come up with a (hopefully) winning strategy that will get you what you are seeking. But your responsibility runs deeper.
You should be prepared to organize important documents like tax returns, financial records, invoices and credit card statements. Sure, you can bring it all in a big box and leave it with your attorney — but you will then be billed for the sorting and organizing of the data.
Don't run your legal bill up unnecessarily
There will certainly be times when it's necessary for you to call your legal counsel. Your attorney needs to know of developments that impact your court case, but calling too often to just "check in" during slow periods when there is nothing legally pending only eats away at your retainer.
In most cases, your attorney's staff will contact you when there is something that needs your attention.
You can work out small issues on your own
Unless there are restraining orders in force between the parties, it's possible to manage minor disputes with your soon-to-be ex-spouse on your own. Perhaps your ex was 20 minutes late returning the kids last weekend due to a traffic jam. Instead of putting your attorney on red alert, consider overlooking the matter or resolving it yourself with the kids' other parent.
Listen to the advice you paid for
It makes utterly no sense to pay for good advice that you then completely disregard. Attorneys are well-versed in California family law statutes and can predict with high accuracy how certain scenarios will play out.
If your attorney advises against a certain course of action and you proceed to blunder right through it with no thought of the consequences, you can wind up losing a winnable case.
Remember that your attorney works for you and is your legal advocate in the matter before the court. Working harmoniously in tandem with him or her can advance your interests and get you the civil relief you are seeking.