When going through the process of a divorce or family law dispute in New York, it’s important to make sure that you fully understand what your rights and responsibilities are as a client. The more you know, the more you can make an informed decision about your future. Therefore, a divorce lawyer will always provide his clients with a document known as the “Clients Rights and Responsibilities” form. The document is prescribed by the Appellate Division, and it’s provided at the initial conference, before any retainer agreements are signed. I am attaching a link to the complete Statement of Clients Rights and Responsibilities here, while this blog is intended to highlight some of the features.
When I give my clients the “Clients Rights and Responsibilities” document, it’s intended to give that individual not only an insight into what they’re entitled to by law, but also what is expected from them. Of course, it’s always possible for my clients to come to me with any questions they might have about their rights or responsibilities, or the case that they will be addressing with me in the future. It’s well within the rights of any family law client to speak to their divorce attorney, child custody attorney or family lawyer if they have any concerns or questions about the manner in which their case is handled. I endeavor to make myself available. One of the rights people have is that an attorney never has the right to refuse your case based on creed, color, sex, orientation, origin, race, or disability.
Your Rights as A Family Law Client
All family law clients, regardless of what their case might entail, are entitled to an attorney who has the knowledge and background to help them handle their case. Additionally, a divorce lawyer should be able to show you consideration and courtesy while representing your interests with passion and focus. Additionally, clients are also entitled to a retainer agreement which showcases the nature of the relationship you will have during the course of your case. Before you sign the agreement, make sure that you understand the terms that are laid out in front of you. Family law clients do have the right to refuse fee agreements that they aren’t happy with, though divorce lawyers may not take your case if you’re unhappy with their prices.
When arranging fees, keep in mind that attorneys cannot request retainer fees that are non-refundable, as clients should have the opportunity to either decide not to use their attorney before the retainer has been used up. Additionally, an attorney might withdraw from the case before the retainer has been used under certain circumstances. However, a child custody lawyer or divorce attorney may ask you to enter into a reasonable “minimum fee” agreement which suggests that you will pay a specific amount regardless of what happens in the future of your case.
Keep in mind that you also have the right to know at least an approximate number of the attorneys and legal staff who will be responsible for working on your case, and what you can expect to pay for the services and fees in question. You will also be able to ask your attorney in advance how your retainer money will be spent. Sometimes, it’s possible to get an estimation of the approximate costs that you might encounter throughout your case, but your family lawyer will need enough time to come to terms with your case and estimate what he or she will need to do to best represent you inside, or outside of the court.
Keeping Track of your Rights
As a family law client, you should be able to receive an itemized and written bill of your costs at least once every 60 days. Additionally, it’s worth noting that it’s important for you to be truthful in any discussion held with your attorney, and you should provide relevant information or documentation to your lawyer so that they can prepare your case in full.
Although your divorce attorney or child custody lawyer might give you advice on what to do next in your case, or you can speak to other review attorneys about your options, it’s important for you to remember that you ultimately have the right to make the full decision on what you want to pursue in your case, and what your best interests should be in the eyes of your lawyer. Remember that you are never under any obligation legally to sign a promissory or confession of judgment note, and you will always be entitled to have your attorney put their highest level of professionalism and effort into your case.
Although it’s hard to guarantee an outcome in any case, it’s important to remember that attorneys like myself are there to help you pursue your best interests at all costs. To find out more about your options working with a family law professional, contact me today either through my online contact form, or over the phone at 516-333-6555.