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Before Your Appointment

Create a list of events

Think about what led you to make an appointment with a family law attorney. Create a list or timeline of events that led to that decision. You may have to discuss some upsetting things with your prospective attorney, but try not to worry. An experienced divorce and family law attorney is not likely to be shocked, and should be understanding and compassionate about your situation.

Write down your questions

It may be helpful for you to write down any questions you may have, so that you don't forget them during your consultation. Your prospective Summerville divorce attorney will do their best to avoid "legalese" and put everything in plain language, but make sure that you ask for clarification if you don't understand something. Most attorneys do not expect you to understand all of the complicated legal issues offhand, and do not mind explaining them.

Gather documents

Once you have decided to retain a Charleston-area divorce and family law attorney, your attorney will help guide you as to how to gather the necessary documentation to work through your case. However, there are some documents that it will be helpful to have on hand at the initial consultation:

  • ​Any papers that have already been served.

  • Information about any previous legal proceedings between the spouses or involving any of the children.

  • A certified copy of any divorce decree that has already been filed. 

  • A copy of any written agreements.

  • Social security numbers.

  • Copies of your (single or joint) income tax returns for the last three years. 

  • A copy of your credit report (Federal Law allows you to get a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each credit reporting company at www.annualcreditreport.com).

General Do's and Don'ts

  • ​Err on the side of telling your attorney too much. They need to know about "skeletons in your closet," i.e. anything the other side may say about you that is negative. It is much better that your attorney knows about these things than to be surprised by it later. 

  • Don't lie to your attorney or hide things from them. 

  • Don't ignore calls or emails from your attorney. 

  • Don't sign anything unless your lawyer approves first. 

  • Strongly consider individual counseling. Attorneys are not trained to help you manage the emotional part of your divorce. 

  • Don't date during your divorce. 

  • Pretend like a judge is watching everything you do and reading everything you text/email. Be on your best behavior. 

  • Do not move money, cancel health insurance, sell assets, run up debt, liquidate retirement, etc. Coordinate all financial moves with your counsel ahead of time. 

  • Don't make major life changes or large purchases during litigation, or in anticipation of litigation. Talk to your attorney first.

  • Do not discuss the case with your children. Seek guidance from your attorney and therapist (family or individual) first. Likewise, never say negative things about the other parent in front of the children or ask the children to "spy" on the other parent. 

  • Do not post about your case/spouse on social media. What you share online may be used against you, even if you believe it is "private." 

  • Change email, phone, individual bank account passwords, and the like so that your spouse cannot access them. Ideally, start over fresh with a new computer and cell phone if you can. Make sure your accounts are not linked to old devices or devices belonging to the children. 

  • You should not use your work computer or email to communicate with your attorney. 

  • Do not destroy any potential evidence online or on your devices without first consulting your attorney. 

  • If you have concerns about your personal safety, alert your attorney.

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Do you charge a consultation fee?

All consultations are personally tailored so that each client receives individualized advice about his or her particular issues and concerns. All consultations are charged a consultation fee. Payment is due at the end of the consultation. We do not offer free consultations. 

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How much will this cost?

Unfortunately, this can be very difficult to predict. The total expense depends on a number of factors, many of which we may not know fully until well into the case. Some of these factors include the types of issues we need to deal with (for example, custody vs. a case with no children involved), how contested the issues are or will be (for example, if you have already reached an agreement with the other party vs. parties who are engaged in a high-conflict dispute), whether financial, forensic, or custody experts are needed,  and the complexity of the issues involved.

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Do I need an attorney?

The short answer is that very likely, yes, you will need an attorney to assist you with the legal process, even if you are getting along with the opposing party. Even if you believe you have already reached a settlement agreement, you may need an attorney to help you file the proper pleadings, give the other party required notices, revise your agreement and advise you on the potential legal impact of its terms, request hearings, conduct hearings, and draft orders.  Retaining an experienced South Carolina divorce and family law attorney may be a worthwhile investment when matters involving your family and finances are at stake.