Can I just ask a quick VA family law question?

Posted on Apr 25, 2022 by Katie Carter


Everyone – yes, everyone – comes to us with ‘just a little’ question they want answered. While the question may seem little to you, to a divorce attorney it’s probably anything but.

Lawyers famously answer questions with two little words: “It depends.” And you can probably get that answer, at least, for free. In almost every single case, it does depend – quite heavily – on the details. Maybe even more details than you realize.

When were you married? Where? Where do you live now? In the same home or separate? How many children? What are their ages? What custody arrangement? Are you nursing? Where are they in school? Where do you plan for them to be in school? What’s in your retirement account, savings account, investment accounts? Where do you work? What do you earn? How long have you been married? When did you start your job? And so on, and so forth.

And it’s not necessarily just even the things that you know the answer to today, like when and where and how long you’ve been married. What’s your husband like? How does he feel about the whole thing? Is he ashamed and penitent? Is he aggressive and headstrong? What about the attorney he’s planning on working with? How litigious or inclined to negotiate is the attorney?

Divorce is a nuanced process, and any number of variables can influence the answer to almost every potential question we could possibly be asked. In so many cases, it’s not a ‘quick’ or a ‘little’ question, or, at least, not without a much larger context. Maybe with more details the answer will become clear; maybe, even, it’ll become a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’, and that’s it. But in order to get to that point, more details are needed. After all, entire lives – yours, his, and your children’s, at a minimum – are hanging in the balance.

There’s not much tolerance for lawyers giving wrong answers, either. Remember, your life is hanging in the balance. You want to be sure that the answer you’re given is correct, and that it’ll lead you down a path that’s designed to provide the happily ever after that you’re looking for. Right? And, for our part, we want to make sure you don’t come after us later with a pitchfork.

So, can you just a get a ‘quick,’ ‘little’, ‘simple’, legal question answered?

Umm, sure? If you have a consult, you can get all of your questions answered. But, like, can you just get a gut check or a free quick answer? Probably not.

I know – you’re making big decisions, and you want to make sure you’re making the right ones. You’re not wrong to ask. But that doesn’t mean that there’s a vehicle in place to get your exact question answered for free.

I do suggest that you download a copy of our divorce book for Virginia women, or our military divorce book if you or your soon to be ex are active duty or retired military service members. Likewise, we have a book about custody and visitation cases in Virginia as well.

We also have a monthly divorce seminar, where we do take questions from the audience. Generally, they’re not specific legal questions, they’re more general procedural questions (like, ‘what is legal separation?’ and ‘how do I get divorced?’) rather than nuanced questions about a particular person’s life (like, ‘can I take the children and relocate to California?’ or ‘how much will I receive in spousal support?’). But it’s a great place to get started and at least begin to understand the different issues involved in a divorce or child custody case in Virginia.

“Family law attorneys only want to give answers for a fee.”  –Lots of people, probably.

It’s a common criticism. And there’s some truth to it. What we do is complex and constantly changing so what, to you, might seem like a casual conversation is the result, for us, of hours and years spent researching, writing, and advocating. It is, in short, our job.

It’s not JUST a conversation where we give answers or we don’t. It’s a complex weighing of issues, of nuances, of complicated facts. It’s a high stakes situation. Knowing all that we do about family law, we’re really sensitive to that.

And, yes, in general, attorneys charge for work to be done, just like teachers are paid for teaching, policemen are paid for policing, and doctors are paid for providing medical care. It may just seem like a conversation to you, but it’s an intense, ongoing practice of law. It’s a profession. I don’t mean to be all lofty about it; it’s not like it’s more noble or important to society than any other position. But people working in other fields are paid for their time, too.

If you want free answers, check out the book. Though the seminars aren’t free, they’re incredibly low cost, so that may be a step worth checking out, too. If all else fails, and you’re dying for the answer to a question, you may find that the best next step is to schedule a consultation. That way, you can make sure that you have an attorney’s undivided attention and that you’re getting the up to date, Virginia specific answers that you need to make big decisions about how to move your case forward.

For more information, or to schedule a consultation, give our office a call at 757-425-5200.