It’s a scary time. Once you realize your marriage is over – but before you’ve taken any action to formally end your marriage – is a time filled with uncertainty. If you’re like me, you want to take steps now to end those feelings of uncertainty, to come up with a game plan, to figure out how to solve some of these big, scary problems so that you can go back to sleep at night instead of tossing and turning endlessly.
Most people turn to an attorney immediately, and one of the first questions we often get is, “Do you offer free consultations?” It’s usually followed up by a bit more information, but explains that the woman is just looking for a bit of general information to figure out what her rights, entitlements, and obligations are in Virginia.
To answer your questions, as far as I can see it, there are really two parts to that question.
Do you offer free consultations?
No, our consultations aren’t free – but I think you’re actually putting the cart before the horse.
You don’t need to sit down with an attorney to figure out what your rights and entitlements are in Virginia. In fact, that’d kind of be a waste of an hour, don’t you think?
We don’t do free consultations, but we DO offer that information – general information to help you figure out what your rights, entitlements, and obligations are in Virginia – for free.
We have four free books, a number of free reports on a variety of topics, an incredibly extensive library full of blogs and articles (of which you’ve already found one, if you’re here), and also low cost divorce and custody seminars.
If you’re looking for general information, you’ve come to the exact right place – and we can certainly help you for free! There’s a lot of competing information out there in the world (or, maybe, more accurately I should say – on the internet) and it’s hard to know that what you’re finding is up to date, Virginia specific, and written by someone who actually knows something about the legal system. Plenty of people THINK they know all about the legal system, and love to write about it. Whether it gives you an unrealistic picture or whether it strikes fear into your heart in a really primal way, that’s not helpful.
What you need is real information based on actual experience and extensive knowledge of the law, right? Not the ramblings of some jaded loser who can’t let go of the fact that there is a completely legitimate reason (that he still fails to understand) why he lost his case. It should be a helpful, productive, accurate dialogue that leaves you feeling like you understand things a little bit better.
There’s no question that the legal system is complicated, nuanced, and constantly changing. You don’t need to come away with an encyclopedia-like knowledge of Virginia family law. But you do need to understand what questions you should be asking and how to plan and strategize so that you are able to take your own priorities into account.
And our books, reports, blogs and articles, and seminars, are going to be one of the quickest ways to get up to speed on Virginia family law. You can also rest assured that it’s up to date, Virginia specific, and written specifically for women. (There are no comparable resources like it for men only, either, in case you wondered.)
So, why would I need a consultation?
A consultation with our firm isn’t a first step, in most cases. Most women take some time to do their research and gather information first. By the time they actually come to our office, they want more than general information.
By the time we meet with most women, they’re ready for legal advice, including a custom tailored plan for how to move forward. Sound complicated? Well, it kind of is! That’s why I say it’s sort of a waste to spend your hour talking to an attorney about general information. Why do that when you could talk to an attorney specifically about your case and your concerns, weighing the advantages and disadvantages of several particular courses of action?
A consultation is an important step in the process, and it’s a valuable one – which is why we (and, actually, most family law firms) charge a fee for that appointment.
Some kinds of law firms do offer a free consultation – usually, personal injury firms. Why? Well, it’s a different type of law. Personal injury attorneys work on contingency fees (meaning, they get a certain percentage of your settlement), so they’re actively looking for cases that will yield them the most money. They’re willing to court you, to entice you, to come their way in order to get 30-40% of your overall settlement.
Family law doesn’t work that way. It’s considered unethical for us to take cases on contingency fees, and, anyway, it’s not lucrative that way. We aren’t suing an insurance company with deep pockets. It’s just you and your husband, and you have the money that you had before you separated.
I’d be afraid, if I were you, that anyone doing “family law” who had a free consultation was either super inexperienced and dying for work, or one of those “jack of all trades” attorneys who practices in a number of different areas. Either way, if I were you, that’s not who I’d want to choose to take my case. If it’s a free consultation, it can’t hurt to take advantage of it – but I’d also want to meet with someone who does family law exclusively before I made any decisions about which attorney to hire.
Obviously, the attorney you hire DOES make a difference to your overall result, and not all attorneys are as skilled as others.
But I really want to talk to an attorney first, before I’m ready for a plan of action.
Well, you’re not alone in that, either. If you just can’t help yourself — you’ve got to talk to an attorney face to face to go over basic divorce information, that’s fine. That’s why the seminars are so awesome. Each seminar is taught live by one of our licensed and experienced Virginia women-only divorce and custody attorneys, so it’s a great place to meet a friendly face and ask your questions in a live atmosphere. Maybe that’s how you learn best. Maybe you just can’t shake the idea that you need to meet an attorney now to begin moving the process forward. Whatever the case may be, if you’d prefer to talk to an attorney, you can definitely do that at one of our seminars!
You could also schedule a consultation at this point; many, many people have more than one consultation as they get their ducks in a row and try to figure out what their options are. Maybe your situation is a little more complicated than the normal situation, or even after reading the books you still have some lingering questions. Totally fine! We’re happy to help, so don’t be shy.
My advice? Get the information first, so you can go in to whatever consultations you schedule prepared and armed with questions to ask. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, give our office a call at 757-425-5200.