What Documents Should I Have Prior To Seeing An Attorney For A Family Law Matter?

When someone comes to me for an initial consultation, the documents I mostly wish to see include currently pending motions or petitions. If orders are already in place, then I would like to have copies of the previous orders of the court. If there are especially important letters or affidavits from therapists, police reports, or documentation from third-party professionals that may impact the case, it would be helpful to have access to those. I have my clients complete a detailed intake form, which I review prior to meeting with them. If there is a piece of evidence that is particularly important, bringing a copy of it to the first meeting would be very helpful. It often surprises me that a person wishing to consult me for the first time will come in without many of these documents, but then ask me to comment on what they mean. The first consultation is much easier if these kinds of documents are brought in with the potential client.

Does Mediation Save Money And Time In A Family Law Case?

Mediation is an extremely helpful tool that can, but does not always, save money and time in a family law case. Mediation is very often the mechanism by which cases settle. Most of the time, mediation will occur with the parties in separate rooms, and the mediator will go back and forth between the two rooms. If a party has an attorney, that attorney will usually be with them.

A mediator will first identify the issues, and then sit with each side separately to hear their version of events and how they think the matter should be resolved. In my experience, the initial round with the mediator is the lengthiest because they spend on average about an hour and a half with one side before returning to the other. However, the amount of time it will take will depend on the number of issues that need to be resolved. Over the course of the day, the length of time necessary to explain one’s position to the mediator decreases and the mediator will go back and forth between the parties much more frequently as the issues get narrowed down.

If an agreement is reached, that takes much less time than would be necessary to litigate a case, so there is usually a significant amount of time saved by a successful mediation.

When a petition has been filed in a domestic or family law case in Utah, the court will not set the case for trial unless mediation has been attempted. Generally, however, the court will not dictate when mediation must occur. The time at which mediation occurs is a significant decision to make. If mediation occurs early and a settlement is reached, then that will likely save the parties a good deal of time, money, and aggravation. However, if one side has a significant amount of leverage over the other, then the party without leverage is going to be disadvantaged at the mediation.

If a party chooses to do so, they may take steps to even the playing field and obtain leverage over the other side before mediating. How to go about doing so is fact-sensitive and will really depend on the circumstances of the case. But generally, if a party files a motion for and receives the temporary orders they were seeking, they will have obtained leverage and evened the playing field. As a result, they will be in a better position to mediate. Alternatively, if the party engages in the discovery process (i.e. subpoenas, requests for admission, interrogatories, requests for production of documents, expert discovery {evaluations or appraisals, for example}, or depositions to build their case), then they might obtain the evidence they need level the playing field before mediation.

Depending on the circumstances of a case, a serious discussion should be had with an attorney regarding the most opportune time to mediate.

In some cases, the courts will require mediation despite the parties having already attempted and failed to settle the case. Unfortunately, court-ordered mediation will increase the cost of the case. However, this is the exception rather than the rule.

There is a pre-filing mediation requirement in some modification cases, which means that if a decree has been entered and a party wishes to modify it, the decree may prohibit them from doing so until mediation has been attempted. Under such circumstances, there would be no choice but to attempt mediation early. .

Generally, courts will not force parties to mediate more than once prior to trial. However, in some cases, the courts will require mediation despite the parties having already attempted and failed to settle the case. However, this is the exception rather than the rule

For more information on Required Documents In An Initial Consultation, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (801) 616-3301 today.

Get Help Now

*Child Welfare Law Specialist Nat’l Assoc. of Counsel for Children