Everyone wants a free consultation – or, at least, they think they do. My experience, though, is that, in general, you get what you pay for.
Family law attorneys, at least the reputable ones I know of in Hampton Roads, don’t generally offer free consultations. Why? For a lot of reasons, but, first and foremost, because we’re not personal injury attorneys. Nothing against personal injury attorneys – if you’ve been hurt in an accident, you’ve got to have one! – but it’s just a totally different type of practice.
Personal injury attorneys can work on contingent fees, meaning that they take a percentage of the overall settlement at the end of the case. In their consultations, they’re looking for cases that will be worth their time.
Our consultations, on the other hand, are designed to provide information to our prospective clients. We can’t work on contingency fees; like, it’s ethically prohibited. And you can imagine why not: IMAGINE an attorney (let alone 2 attorneys, his and yours) taking 10, 15, or 20% or more of everything that you’re worth? Eeks.
It’s not like suing an insurance company with deep pockets. Typically speaking, in a family law case, the pockets aren’t that deep. Even for a multimillionaire couple, the amount of money there to divide is WAY less than an insurance company with mega millions or billions to work with. We work on hourly fees, so it doesn’t matter whether a client has a multimillion dollar portfolio of assets or whether they’re literally just trying to avoid as much of the marital debt as possible – it costs the same. The differentiating factor between cases is how many hours it takes to resolve them, not the actual cost involved.
Our consultations are not to help us decide whether you’ll be worth it to us to take on as a client; they’re to give you the information you need to make big decisions about how to move your divorce and custody case forward. We’re not screening you, like the PI guys are doing. We’re trying to help you make those decisions, answering questions, looking at advantages and disadvantages of potential courses of actions, giving warnings, offering explanations, and so on. It’s complex, even at the beginning stages – maybe even especially at the beginning stages, before the case has started to take shape.
But I just need an easy question answered. I don’t need a whole consultation.
I don’t really think there are many – if any – truly ‘easy’ questions in a divorce or custody situation. There’s not many ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions, and, even if there were, they’d branch out quickly into a discussion of how that yes or no would ultimately impact your case and the choices you should be making.
Strategically, a lot goes into a divorce. So, I do want to prepare you for the VERY likely fact that your question is nowhere near as ‘easy’ as you think it is.
If it truly is that easy, then I recommend that you check out one of our books on divorce and custody law in Virginia. That’s a great place to begin to learn about the law and how it operates in Virginia.
Likewise, we also have a monthly divorce seminar that you could attend. These cover a lot of the information provided in the book, but in a Zoom-webinar format, but offer the added perk of being able to ask your questions live to one of our Virginia licensed women only family law attorneys. So, that’s a great place to start.
Well, I need a little more information than I can get from a book or webinar where there are other people on the line.
Yeah, I get that! It’s definitely a pretty private thing and, in a lot of cases, we touch on some of the hardest hitting topics – the strength of your marriage, your finances, your sex life, your parenting – so it can be difficult to talk candidly in front of others.
If you don’t prefer to do it that way, or aren’t a book learner, well, you aren’t alone. But you’re probably better suited for a consultation! I know, it seems scary to actually pay for a consultation, but we’re really nice and you’ll probably feel a lot more comfortable than you expect.
There aren’t a whole lot of easy questions in family law and, as far as I’m aware, there really aren’t any free consultations out there.
If you have more questions, want to download a copy of our book, or want to know more about our upcoming monthly divorce seminars, give us a call at 757-425-5200.