Happy New Year everyone! Now that the holidays have passed we are back to your regularly scheduled programing. This week we’re going to zoom out a bit and look at one of the most basic requirements for your family law case, your participation. No matter what kind of case you have, it cannot succeed without you.
When you hire an attorney, you are hiring an expert in their field to handle your case so you don’t have to. However, that does not mean you can be completely hands off. While there are deadlines that are up to your attorney alone to meet, there are those that cannot be met without action on your part. For example, if the other side serves you with discovery responses must be given within 30 days. It is up to your attorney to meet this deadline, but they cannot do so if you don’t provide them with the responsive documents to production requests, or the answers to interrogatories.
Similarly, if you are involved in a divorce, regardless of if it’s amicable or contested, you will need to provide your attorney with an inventory of the community and separate property. This is needed to draft the divorce decree. If you don’t provide them with this information, they won’t be able to properly draft your decree because certain property may be left unaccounted.
Additionally, you will need to reach out to people who you feel will make good witnesses to your case and provide their information to your attorney. A specifically tailored examination for your witnesses cannot be prepared if your attorney is unable to get in contact with them. Another way to help with the process, is to give a short statement to your attorney that says who the witness is, and how they will be beneficial to your case.
You will also need to make sure that you stay in communication with your attorney. It can be easy at times to let an email or voicemail slip through the cracks. But odds are if your attorney is reaching out to you, they need something from you. It can be something as simple as clarification of a specific piece of evidence, or something as important as ensuring that a court order is followed. Keeping open lines of communication and staying responsive is crucial to make sure that no deadlines get missed, and that you have the strongest case possible.
Lastly, you need to make sure that you continue to provide your attorney with updated exhibits as your case progresses. Do not wait until right before trial to send over additional exhibits. This does not give you attorney enough time to review and supplement them before the relevant deadlines. Instead, when something becomes available send it then. Even if you aren’t sure whether or not it is relevant, send it over for your attorney to decide.
In conclusion, if you don’t take an active part in your case, you are setting yourself up to fail. I’m not saying you need to be in communication with your attorney every hour of the day or flood them with 10,000 pages of texts between you and the other party, because that could also potentially harm your case. But, you do need to be ready, willing, and able to do what your attorney needs you to do, and to get them what they ask from you.