June is National Effective Communications Month, an excellent time to look at how to improve communications in your professional and personal circles, and that includes communications with your family lawyer. Whether you seek the counsel of an experienced Colorado family law attorney for a divorce or annulment, child custody or domestic abuse case, there are certain guidelines that will help you develop a cooperative working relationship, which is crucial to helping you achieve the best possible outcomes.
There is no one factor more important to establishing good communications with your family lawyer than honesty. But when it comes to discussing your case with your lawyer, honesty means more than not lying. Honesty entails complete disclosure. Do not censor details or information you do not think is relevant to your case. Tell your family law attorney everything—previous arrests or charges, military experience, potential deployments, drug or alcohol abuse, history of domestic violence or emotional/mental illness, etc. Your lawyer will determine what is or is not relevant to your case, and because of attorney-client privilege, all information you share is confidential.
When you are not completely honest with your attorney, you run the risk of compromising the success of your case. Your lawyer can only help you prepare for, dispute or strategize around what he/she knows. When your lawyer is taken by surprise, he/she is not able to construct the strongest case possible to fight for the best outcomes, which may involve child visitation and custody, financial security and/or your permanent record.
A client who is not totally honest also runs the risk of disenfranchising his/her lawyer, and that could lead to the lawyer terminating the working relationship. That puts you in the position of starting over with your case, and that delay could be detrimental to overall case outcomes.
Another factor in understanding the necessity of being truthful with your lawyer and with the Court concerns the financial disclosures. When a party in a family law matter has been required to submit financial documents or disclosures, a Court may make a negative inference about that party if the Court believes that someone has not been totally truthful or forthcoming with the production of such financial disclosures. Since a lawyer has a greater ethical responsibility to the Court, it is improper for a lawyer to mislead a court or to withhold financial documents and information that a Court has said must be disclosed.
Compliance with Directions
When you work with a successful Colorado family attorney like Gordon N. Shayne, his case load requires him to be out of the office quite frequently. He relies on his support staff to help him communicate with clients while he is in status conferences, mediation and arbitration, orders hearings, etc. Office procedures have been developed to facilitate a clear chain of communication that allows your lawyer to gather the necessary information and keep you informed of all progress in a timely fashion. Follow those office procedures for the best results.
For instance, during your initial case consultation with Gordon Shayne, you will be given a list of email addresses for the staff. You will be instructed to direct your communications to the paralegal team and to CC: the attorney. You will also be asked to use email correspondence as this means of communication as it is itself documentation. It also serves to eliminate the work of listening to and transcribing voice communications. Complying with office procedures allows quicker response time and will be more cost effective.
Many of the motions and responses required in family law cases come with defined time limits. For instance, when a petition for a divorce is filed, the respondent has 20 days to respond. Both parties must file sworn financial statements within 20 days of the response. Meeting deadlines requires that you respond in a timely fashion to requests for information from your attorney. Letting communications lapse can do more than just delay the progress of your case. In some cases, missing deadlines may eliminate cost-effective possibilities for resolving your case, jeopardize favorable outcomes and even put you in contempt of court, which may carry additional legal fees.
When you know that you will not be able to communicate in a timely fashion, as is often the case for deployed military members, you should provide your lawyer with a reliable emergency contact.
Effective communications is a two-way street. Just as you need to be honest and timely with your communications to your family lawyer, your attorney needs to be up-front and provide timely responses to you.
Gordon Shayne has extensive experience with Colorado family law, and he will be honest about your case—likely outcomes, possible strategies and timeline for resolution. While he may be away from the office working on your case, his highly trained support staff is there to facilitate timely responses to your questions and requests for information.
If you are looking for an experienced Colorado family law attorney who is able to give your case the attention it requires, contact Gordon N. Shayne, Attorney at Law.
Disclaimer: The blogs posted on ShayneLaw.com are offered for informational purposes only. These blogs are not a solicitation for legal business and should not be construed as providing any legal advice or legal opinions as to any specific fact or circumstance. Specific legal issues, concerns and conditions always require the advice of an appropriate legal professional. To obtain legal advice or opinions about Colorado family law, personally consult with a licensed Colorado attorney.