This article should not be construed as legal advice. Situations are different and it’s impossible to provide legal advice for every situation without knowing the individual facts.
When you schedule a divorce consult at Hightower Reff Law, you will talk with our intake specialist who will receive some initial information either over the phone or through email. This will help our office to select the attorney who is the right fit for you. All of our family law attorneys are experienced in divorce and custody. You may have received a specific referral for one of our attorneys but we want to make sure you receive the right fit. You will be scheduled to meet with one of our attorneys in our office or during a phone consultation. Our intake specialist will email you some initial information prior to your consult. This is similar to paperwork your doctor might have you fill out before an initial medical appointment. While you’re not required to fill it out before your consult, and not everyone does, it can help you formulate some questions during the consult.
Let’s Determine Your Goal.
At Hightower Reff Law, the goal of the attorney during the consultation is to make sure you leave with as much information as possible about your specific, unique situation. We will likely ask you “what is your goal.” Your goal will be unique to you and we will use that as a reminder during the entire divorce proceedings. It’s likely you have discussed what is going on with your close friends or family but the information you receive in our office will be tailored legal information that you can use immediately.
Depending on what stage you’re in during divorce proceedings, we will discuss the timing and expectations you should have. If neither you nor your spouse has yet filed for divorce, we will discuss what to expect during the initial filing. This often can be the most stressful part of the divorce as you consider the immediate needs of your and your family. This may include temporary finances and questions about who will pay which bills and other questions about who will live where after the divorce is filed. It is our goal to discuss with you the first steps that can help you make the entire process smoother. Our attorneys are experienced in discussing with you the things you need to make sure the first month is as smooth as possible considering your unique situation.
What Happens after we File for Divorce?
There is no law that requires someone to move out or leave the home. While living together during a divorce proceeding can be tricky and oftentimes stressful, it is not likely the judge will order one person to move out, unless there is emotional or physical abuse in the relationship. Whether you or your spouse decides to move out may depend on what will happen with the house. If the house is likely to be sold during the divorce proceedings, it may make sense to have both spouses continue living together to help pay the bills and do any repairs necessary in order to get the house ready for sale. If one person wants to keep the house after the divorce is final, it may make sense that the person who can afford the house will remain living in the house. If you decide to leave the house during the divorce proceedings, you are not abandoning the house or your things. These things can always be negotiated later or determined by a judge at trial.
Something else to consider during the initial stages is what kind of parenting time each parent will have until there can be a court hearing. This may be another reason that spouses remain living together if there isn’t yet an agreement on a temporary parenting time arrangement. We may spend some time talking about what to expect shortly after the initial filing during what’s called a temporary hearing. Not every case will have a temporary hearing as oftentimes temporary matters can be negotiated between the spouses and attorneys. If a temporary hearing is necessary, we will spend time talking about how you can start preparing for that right away in your consult.
Also during a consult we will discuss what immediate financial concerns you have. You are likely to have unique financial questions that you can’t find answers from friends or Google. It is important to discuss these in your consult. During the consult, it’s possible we don’t have time to discuss the longer-term financial questions that may change during the divorce proceedings. We will spend our time talking about making sure financial obligations aren’t missed and taking steps to make sure your financial safety is in place. If money has been moved around without agreement between the two of you, we can discuss what immediate things we can do to protect your assets. It is rare that money will go missing that cannot later be included in settlement discussions.
To Settle or Not to Settle.
Typically, during the consult, there are several factors that are unknown, like who the judge will be and who your spouse’s attorney will be. These factors can have a huge impact on how your proceedings will evolve. At Hightower Reff Law, our mission is to make sure you are able to move on in your life with realistic expectations and that usually means that we are helping you settle your case. We recognize that not every part of every case can be settled, but we will do our best to keep your expenses down and your goals in mind. A settlement in divorce may feel like “losing” but it’s usually a negotiation that includes your attorney advocating for what you want and also knowing the risk of going to trial. In most cases, the risk (including cost) of going to trial is outweighed by the benefit of the control you have in a settlement. Our job is to make sure you understand the risks and benefits of a trial and settlement while keeping your initial goals in mind.
We consider a successful consult to be the client who says at the end “I feel so much better now.” We know that even thinking about stepping foot in a lawyer’s office causes stress, so we have created an environment that is unassuming and nonjudgmental. We treat each consult as a time to listen to you and tailor our advice to your unique situation. Because most people think about divorce for about two years prior to having a divorce consult with an experienced divorce lawyer, you can avoid unnecessary stress by having a conversation with us about what you might expect in your divorce. We won’t help you make a decision whether to get a divorce or not, but the information you get in a consult will definitely help you make decisions that are right for you.
Our consultations are confidential and our attorneys are kind. If you’re thinking about divorce or separation, contact our office to discuss your unique situation. We will provide clear expectations. Call the office or contact us online and make an appointment to come visit with us about your parenting time issue during an initial consultation. Don’t go it alone.