Initial Consultation Questions & Answers
How do I make an appointment for an initial consultation?
What should I bring to my initial consultation?
You should bring all of your court paperwork, such as pleadings from prior cases, or any pleadings and correspondence which has been sent to you or served on you. You should also bring any paperwork which you think is important to your case. For example, if you want advice about a separation or divorce, you should bring any financial information you have, such as recent bank statements, income records for your spouse and for you, and asset and debt records. If you want advice about custody issues, you should bring any medical, educational, or therapy records you may have on your child or children.
What will happen at my initial consultation?
You will meet alone with the attorney to talk about what brought you to our office, what is happening in your life, and what we can do about it. We will ask you specific questions to get a feel for what the issues might be for you, and will talk to you about the law as it relates to your situation, and what your options are.
How long will my initial consultation take?
Initial consultations usually last at least an hour but can last several hours if your situation is complicated or you feel you need to spend more time.
Is the information I give you confidential?
Absolutely. We will not disclose the information you give us to anyone without your knowledge and consent.
Why do I need to be alone when I meet with the attorney?
It is important that all of your meetings with an attorney be private. Any attorney meeting which includes a third person, even if the third person is your current spouse, an adult child or a parent, is not confidential. This means that your opposing party will have access to what was said and done at this meeting.
What if I am not sure that I need to talk to an attorney?
If you have any questions about your marriage or about what your financial or legal situation might be if you were to separate or divorce, you should consult an attorney. It is always important to have this information, whether you decide to separate immediately, or you end up remaining married for months or even years.
What if I am not sure I want to get a divorce?
Meeting with one of our attorneys provides an opportunity to ask questions and obtain information about your rights and possible obligations. We are a confidential resource of information.
Will my spouse know I have met with an attorney?
Your spouse will not know that you have been to our office unless you reveal this information either directly or indirectly. The information will not be revealed by us until and unless you retain us and you decide, with your attorney, to move forward with your case.
What if the opposing party in my case calls your office for an initial consultation after I have seen an attorney in your office?
Once you have had a formal meeting with an attorney in our office, we will be conflicted out of talking to or meeting with your opposing party.
Will you be able to tell me how long my case will last or what will happen?
We will be honest with you, which means we will not be able to predict how long your case will last, how difficult your litigation might be, or whether you will “win.” We will do everything we can to give you some idea of what we think are the strengths and weaknesses of your situation, what you should do and not do to make your situation as favorable to you as possible, and how complicated or lengthy your litigation might be.
What if my family finances are complicated?
We often deal with complicated financial situations. We also frequently involve a forensic accountant to provide expert advice on complicated financial situations.
Will my case go to trial?
We go to Court for temporary hearings and other motion hearings in many of our cases. But the vast majority of our cases are resolved without a trial, either through mediation or other settlement negotiations.
What if my spouse and I have reached an agreement but neither of us has an attorney?
You should schedule an initial consultation, and we will review the terms of your settlement and will let you know if there are more effective ways to accomplish some of your and your spouse’s goals. If you retain us, we will put your agreement into writing, and you can then take the written agreement to your spouse for revisions.
If we have an agreement, will my spouse need to hire a separate attorney?
While it is not necessary, it is often a good idea for your spouse to have the agreement reviewed by a separate attorney so that the resulting agreement is fair and enforceable.
Will we have to go to Family Court if we have an agreement?
Yes. A simple written and signed agreement is not enforceable until it is approved by the family court and made a court order. This means that we will need to file an action and have a brief hearing so that the family court judge can ask you and your spouse questions about the fairness of your agreement and about whether you have entered into the agreement voluntarily, and can approve the agreement and make it into a court order.
Can I get alimony? Can I avoid paying alimony?
These are questions we cannot answer until we have had an opportunity to meet with you and talk to you.
How can I prove grounds for divorce?
This is a question we cannot answer until we have had an opportunity to meet with you and talk with you.
Should I schedule an initial consultation even if I am not sure that my case belongs in South Carolina, or in one of the local counties?
Absolutely. It is important that you have information about where your case should be filed. We will tell you If your case needs to be filed in another state or a distant county, and will try to help you find an attorney in that place.
What if I have a question about interstate custody?
We can give you the necessary information about your custody situation, even if you, your child, or your spouse or ex-spouse live outside of South Carolina. We will advise you about the appropriate place to file your case.
What if I have been served with pleadings from out of state?
You should schedule an initial consultation and bring your pleadings, and depending on jurisdiction, we will advise you either about finding counsel in the state in which the pleadings were filed to contest out-of-state jurisdiction or to represent you, if jurisdiction belongs in the state in which the pleadings were filed.
What if I have lived in a foreign country, or my spouse or children lives in a foreign country?
A foreign divorce or custody case may be heard in federal court. You should schedule an initial consultation with Jane Nussbaum Douglas, who is a member of the local federal district court bar, to find out whether the foreign country is a member of the Hague Convention, and how to proceed.
What if I am looking for a mediator?
Natalie Parker Bluestein is a certified family court mediator, and can mediate your case. If you are looking for a mediator, you will not have an initial consultation, but will make a mediation appointment, and will come to our office with your opposing party to meet with Ms. Bluestein to try to resolve your case.
What if I want to do Collaborative Law?
Both of our partners, Natalie Parker Bluestein and Jane Nussbaum Douglas, are certified in Collaborative Law. You should schedule an initial consultation without your spouse or opposing party, and Ms. Bluestein or Ms. Douglas will give you a list of other certified Collaborative lawyers so that your spouse or opposing party can schedule an initial consultation with that attorney, so that your case can move forward.
If I retain Bluestein & Douglas, Inc., who will work on my case?
The attorney you retain will be your primary attorney. Our partners will not pass your case off to an associate attorney under any circumstances, unless you agree for specific tasks or simple hearings.
What happens after my initial consultation?
Unless you are coming in for information only, we will give you a client information packet during your initial consultation which you can complete and return if and when you want. If you decide to take action or go forward more than a year after your initial consultation, you will need to schedule another consultation with us.
When does Bluestein & Douglas, Inc., become my attorney?
Bluestein & Douglas, Inc., does not become your attorney until and unless you sign a retainer agreement and pay your complete retainer fee. You are under no obligation after your initial consultation, nor is Bluestein & Douglas, Inc., under any obligation to you. (We will, not, however, meet with or talk to your opposing party.)
What if I have additional or follow-up questions after my initial consultation?
Unless you have made special arrangements with the attorney during your initial consultation for follow-up questions by email or telephone, you will need to schedule another meeting, and pay our hourly rate, to have your questions answered.
Can I continue to meet with the attorney from time to time for information without retaining Bluestein & Douglas, Inc.?
Yes. You can schedule additional appointments with the attorney as often as you need.
Paths to a Resolution Questions & Answers
What happens if I want to get a second opinion during my case?
Our retainer agreement specifically states that you are welcome to get a second opinion from another attorney during your case, without notification to or permission from us.
Mediation Questions & Answers
What if I am looking for a mediator?
Natalie Parker Bluestein is a certified family court mediator and can mediate your case. If you are looking for a mediator, you will not have an initial consultation, but will make a mediation appointment, and will come to our office with your opposing party to meet with Ms. Bluestein to try to resolve your case.
Collaborative Law Questions & Answers
What if I want to do Collaborative Law?
Both of our partners, Natalie Parker Bluestein and Jane Nussbaum Douglas, are certified in Collaborative Law. You should schedule an initial consultation without your spouse or opposing party, and Ms. Bluestein or Ms. Douglas will give you a list of other certified Collaborative lawyers so that your spouse or opposing party can schedule an initial consultation with that attorney so that your case can move forward.