Sometimes An Initial Consultation Is All It Takes
Almost every family law and divorce case starts with an initial consultation. But what exactly is an “initial consultation” anyways?
At Sparks Family Law, your initial consultation is an independent service in and of itself, and not some cleverly disguised sales presentation. No family lawyer can afford the time commitment necessary to talk to everyone who needs legal help, and so we charge a small fee for the service. If this is your first visit with us, we offer a reduced-rate, one-hour initial consultation with our attorney for $200. If this is a return visit to our office for a follow-up consultation, we charge our regular hourly rate.
During the consultation, we will tell you what you need to know with real answers, and not fluff or a slick sales pitch like many attorneys do. We’re not going to waste your time nor ours. If you can handle your case yourself, we’ll explain how. If you need to hire a divorce or family lawyer, we’ll walk you through that process as well.
Either way, you get an hour of dedicated attorney time focused entirely on you. We’ll review the facts and documents in your case, listen to your needs, and then explain how the law and the family law process apply specifically to you. You’ll learn your rights and obligations, and have enough information so you can make an intelligent decision on how to move forward in your case.
In other words, your initial consultation is an in-depth and comprehensive assessment of your case, with realistic and practical legal advice you can use to decide what next steps are best for you. And if you do decide to hire us at the time of your consultation (minimum $2,500 retainer), we will credit the consultation fee back to your account so it is effectively free of charge.
If you think you can’t afford to talk to a lawyer, consider the alternative. Your children, your assets, your income and your future are all too important to leave to chance. In most cases, the reality is that you can’t afford NOT to talk to a lawyer. Our consultation service provides you with affordable access to an attorney, so that you can at least start the process on the right path and have a better understanding of what needs to be done and how best to protect yourself and your family.
Legal Second Opinions
If you already have another attorney, but have questions about your lawyer’s strategy or how your case is being handled, then maybe it’s time for a legal second opinion. When someone faces a serious illness, the benefits of obtaining a medical second opinion are numerous. The same is true of a legal second opinion.
When you come see us for a legal second opinion, we will provide you with the feedback and information you need to make decisions about your existing representation. We can provide you with s0me peace of mind if it appears to us that your current attorney is doing everything prudent and reasonable in your case. We can offer suggestions that will allow you to work more effectively with your attorney. We can provide you with the right questions to ask your attorney to help develop a stronger legal strategy or identify issues that might have been overlooked. And we can offer you an alternative course of action if you decide you need to make a change.
Our fee for a legal second opinion is identical to that of the initial consultation above. If this is your first visit to our office, we offer a reduced-rate, one-hour meeting with our attorney for $200. If this is a return visit, we charge our regular hourly rate.
If you are handling your case on your own, we strongly recommend that you have an experienced family law attorney review the important legal documents in your case. Those documents can include a prenuptial agreement, an initial Petition or Response for a divorce, a motion, opposition papers, financial disclosures, a legal brief, a marital settlement agreement, or a final Judgment of Dissolution. Sometimes it’s a combination of several of these documents, handed to you by your spouse or his/her lawyer with a note that says, “sign here or else.”
There are many different kinds of legal documents in family law cases, and clients sometimes opt to have a legal document preparer draft and assemble their papers. However, it is critical for you to understand that a document preparer cannot give legal advice, nor make recommendations or suggestions about the contents or repercussions of those papers. It is critically important that you understand what these documents are, why they are necessary, and what the short-term and long-term consequences will be if you sign them. The choices you make today can follow or haunt you for the rest of your life.
Far too often, new clients will come to us several years after a divorce is finalized to see if we can get them out of a bad situation because of an agreement they signed when they were handling the case on their own, only to learn that they are stuck with few (or no) options today, and that they really should have conferred with an attorney prior to signing the document(s).
When clients bring their legal documents to us for review, we regularly discover problems that need to be resolved before signing and/or filing. We are able to explain in detail “the good, the bad and the ugly” of a proposed agreement, and offer solutions that result in a more equitable or favorable result. At other times, we find that the documents are already in order and properly drafted to be legally enforceable and to reflect exactly what you agreed upon with your spouse.
You begin the document review process by contacting our office to schedule an initial consultation. If we are able to review the document(s) during your scheduled consultation, you pay only the low discounted consultation fee described above. Complex documents may require more time for analysis, review and discussion, for which we will either charge you hourly or we may be able to quote a reasonable, fixed fee.
Email us or call (925) 465-2500 or (707) 398-6008 for more information about your particular situation or to schedule an initial consultation at Sparks Family Law with attorney Gary D. Sparks.