Keep in mind, it’s your court case, not your attorney’s. Here are a handful of the things that You should do in your case and that we tell our clients that hire The Wright Firm:
1. Be Informed
You need to be as knowledgeable and as involved in your Dallas Divorce case as possible. Educate yourself regarding the process of divorce (for example, by reading this article and the guides found on our website). Read any and all letters or paperwork, or e-mails your attorney sends you. If you don’t understand something, ask a question. Even better, make a list of questions for your Dallas divorce attorney, and ask them all in one telephone call or email (we do charge on an hourly basis, you know).
2. Keep A File
Your Dallas lawyer should give you a copy of all the documents that are either sent between your lawyer and the opposing lawyer or filed with the court. Keep these documents! Make a file in which to keep your divorce and family law documents This may be a single folder, a file box, a filing cabinet or a warehouse based on your case. Make sure you remember to bring that file with you every time that you visit your Dallas divorce attorney’s office, or at least the parts of your file that the attorney asks you to bring or you want to speak with him/her about.
3. Tell Your Attorney the Truth
You should be totally honest with your attorney. Give all information about anything that even MAY be important in your case. This includes not simply information that assists you but, all facts which might hurt your case. Odds are your spouse or his/her attorney is going to find out about them anyway, so don’t let your attorney be the last to know. The “bad stuff” usually is not as harmful as you think.
Be aware: When you are placed under oath at a deposition or hearing in a Dallas divorce court, you will be instructed to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Lie under oath and you expose yourself to criminal perjury charges. Likewise, Texas law requires your Dallas attorney to see to it that you tell the truth. When you are under oath, your attorney cannot and will not allow you to testify to anything he knows is not the truth.
4. Information Gathering
Facts are the heart of your divorce lawsuit. You will be provided information sheets to fill out and asked to assemble additional information and documents. Yes, this will be time-consuming, tedious, and annoying, but it is extremely important. It must be done. You, the client, have a much greater familiarity with and access to these facts than your attorney. As you research and piece together this information, you may create a deeper comprehension of your case. Besides, when you do the work yourself, you aren’t paying by the hour! For all these reasons, you ought to do as much of the information gathering (under the direction of your attorney and staff) as is feasible.
5. Review Spouse’s Documents
Your Dallas Family Law attorney will give you copies of most documents furnished by your spouse’s attorney. Look at these documents immediately and understand them completely. Then you will be able to ask questions about the documents that your attorney may not know to ask or detect anything important or unusual in the documents (for example, checks written for unusually high amounts or repeated phone calls to a number you don’t recognize).
6. Decision Making
Just like there is a division of labor between your lawyer and his/her staff, there also needs to be a division of labor between you and your lawyer with regard to making decisions about your case. Your lawyer cannot settle your case without your approval and consent. You also must give your approval for other major decisions such as whether to demand a jury or what kind of child custody to seek.
However, you need to allow your attorney the authority to make other decisions that involve professional judgment or courtesy. For example, your attorney should decide how you can phrase your pleadings so when to file the pleading. You pay us to use those big legal words, right? Also, sometimes, your spouse’s attorney may request to reschedule a hearing, deposition, etc. If the request is legitimate (i.e. the witness was in a car wreck the day before), allow your attorney the leeway to extend professional courtesy to the other attorney. Hey, you might need to ask an identical favor in the future. Your attorney ought to be the decision maker for these kinds of matters.
Side note: don’t be surprised or upset if your lawyer and your spouse’s lawyer are friendly to each other outside of court. This doesn’t make your lawyer a traitor to you. Your lawyer ought to be fully capable of arguing your case to its fullest, and still having coffee with opposing counsel after the trial.
If you have any questions about this article or your Dallas County divorce or family law matter, you may also visit our other website at www.thewrightlawyers.com or send me an email at Patrick@thewrightlawyers.com. At The Wright Firm, L.L.P., we understand the difficult divorce process and seek to assist you in your Dallas County case. Thank you for reading this article.