Responsibilities of Family Law Clients
Orlando Family Law Attorney Eduardo J. Mejias
Practicing Exclusively Family Law Since 2011
Both Lawyer and Client Have Their Responsibilities
My family law clients, whether involved in a divorce, a paternity action, child dependency or other case, expect and receive a certain level of service when I represent them. They can expect to have their situation honestly and intelligently assessed and be keep informed of all major developments in their family law case. Finally, I will use every available legal option to ensure the best possible outcome for them.
Likewise, family law clients are entrusted with certain responsibilities. Even employing the most skilled family law attorney does not relieve the client from being responsible for these actions that are required by law:
(1) If You Move File a Notice of Change of Address With the Family Court
Too many times I have seen litigants move to a new address and just expect the opposing party and the judge to figure out their new address. When such a litigant complains about not receiving crucial pleadings and notices, the judge invariably asks: Did you file a notice of change of address with the court? Of course, they respond “no” and this increases the likelihood of a more adverse outcome of their case.
Please do not let this happen to you. No matter how annoying it may seem, you must file a notice with your new address in your case once you learn of the new location. Do not put it off or rationalize not doing it by claiming an invasion of privacy. Virtually all court filings are part of the public record. Accept this time-honored principle and be transparent with everything.
Remember, it is neither the opposing party’s nor the court’s responsibility to hunt you down. They merely have to send all pleadings and notices to your “last known address.”
(2) Make Your Child Support Payments Your First Priority
Despite the seemingly obvious importance of honoring a child support obligation, some parents that are obliged to pay it choose to first pay discretionary expenses or “get their financial house in order” before paying the full amount of their child support. This is a huge mistake.
Expect an opposing attorney to grill you in a cross-examination, and the presiding judge to chastise you (or worse, hold you in contempt) for opting to pay down a credit card, or even make a car payment over paying the full amount of child support. First comes feeding yourself (with peanut butter sandwiches if necessary), then comes paying your child support. Family court judges consider every other expense to be frivolous in comparison.
(3) Complete Your Financial Affidavit and Produce Your Mandatory Disclosure Documents
As I have explained on The Divorce Disclosure Paperwork, all divorce and paternity litigants are required to file a completed financial affidavit (FA) and produce supporting financial documents such as pay stubs, tax returns, and bank statements that corroborate the numbers in their FA. Needless to say, most litigants approach this endeavor with the same level of enthusiasm as having a root canal done by their dentist.
Guess what: You still have to complete these tasks on time! Judges don't cares how the production of these documents violate your privacy, how much your evil ex-spouse is lying, or how busy you are. Assuming that the mandatory disclosure documents are reasonably accessible, you must produce them within 45 days after the start of the litigation.
Failure to timely produce a financial affidavit or a mandatory disclosure documents will eventually leads to sanctions like paying the other attorney’s fees, or worse, the striking of your pleadings. By timely producing your FA and mandatory disclosure documents you are protecting you interests.
How We Can Help
If you have any questions about these responsibilties, or you simply want advice about your family law matter, I encourage you to call AAA Family Law at (407) 260-6001 and schedule an initial consultation.
At the consultation I will carefully listen to your explanation of the family law situation that brought you to my office and ask you to state your objectives. I will then explain a plan of legal action to protect your rights and achieve all possible objectives. Then I will quote you a lawyer's retainer fee for a fixed amount for the case, not an hourly rate whose total is unpredictable.
For more information on the AAA Family Law attorney fees, please read Family Lawyer Retainer Fees
To find more information on Family Law topics, please go to the Articles section.