What Can I Expect From A Free Family Law Consultation?

Unsurprisingly, everyone wants a free consultation. No one wants to pay for a family law consultation, much less pay an attorney. Accordingly, in an effort to secure new business some attorneys offer free consultations. Now, while there aren’t many family law attorneys who offer free consultation, here’s what you – the prospective client – can expect from your free family law consultation.

Brief Consultation

It’s very doubtful that a family law attorney will speak to you at length for free. In reality, the consultation will probably be less than 30 minutes in duration; just long enough for the attorney to learn what they need to know about your case to provide a quote.

A Conversation

A legal consultation is a conversation about your situation and how the law may apply to your situation. In family law, that conversation will center upon divorce, child custody, child support, spousal support, or property division.

Not A Self-Help Workshop

Again, your free consultation will be a conversation and likely will not include specific instructions on filling out Judicial Council forms or procedural guidance. In short, your free consultation will not be a family law self-help workshop. (That’s for your county’s free family law facilitator’s office which is notoriously slow to respond and generally unhelpful).

Why Divorce Attorneys Offer Free Consultations

The reality is that divorce attorneys offer free consultations to sell you on their services and hopefully gain you as a paying client. Help from an attorney should be free, but in reality, it’s not free. Many times family law clients find out that their free consultation wasn’t that helpful, and all they really took away from the conversation was a quote for services.

If You Can’t Afford An Attorney

Not everyone can afford an attorney, and yet self-help centers are not that helpful. However, there is a way to get legal guidance from a family law attorney for minimal cost. If you and your spouse are attempting to divorce and on fairly good terms, you could hire an attorney for limited scope representation. In limited scope representation, the attorney often charges a flat fee to prepare certain documents and guide you through the process.

Another alternative if you can’t afford limited scope representation but need “self-help” guidance is to find an attorney who will provide legal and procedural assistance during a paid consultation. For instance, family law attorney Jin Kim in Sacramento charges $200 for a one-hour consultation in which she helps clients with family law forms and offers procedural guidance. Now, that one-hour meeting won’t get a client to the finish line, but it will help them take the next step in their case.

Practical Parenting and Divorce: Parenting Time Agreements in California — Dr. Thomas C. Maples

Introduction I have written a large number of published and electronic articles on Practical Parenting over the years. Having two decades of experience in the healing profession of psychology, being a co-chair of a family law firm, and working with thousands of children during this time, I have seen the ill effects that two parties […]

Practical Parenting and Divorce: Parenting Time Agreements in California — Dr. Thomas C. Maples

Do Domestic Partners Have Rights When They Break Up?

Do Domestic Partners Have Rights When They Break Up?

Domestic partners are partners you live with but are not legally married to. They are also known as non-marital partners – and non-marital partners are not limited to same-sex cases. Non-marital partners have the right to enforce expressed or implied agreements for support or property sharing in the event of a separation.

This rule came from a 1976 California Supreme Court decision known as Marvin v. Marvin .

The Marvin (Palimony) claim comes from the palimony breakup of actor Lee Marvin and long-term girlfriend Michelle Triola. It allows non-marital partners the right to enforce expressed or implied agreements for support or property sharing in the event of a separation. Most of the Marvin claims apply to property acquired during the period lived together.

Basically, alimony is court ordered spousal support that one spouse is ordered to pay to the other during and/or after getting divorced. Palimony provides alimony for unmarried cohabitating couples who break up. Winning a Marvin claim requires knowledge of how the law affects your domestic partnership. It is advised to seek legal advice if you are seeking a Marvin claim or trying to defend against it.

How to File a Marvin Claim

In Marvin Claim, a non-marital partner’s right to monetary support or property is dependent upon an expressed or implied contract. Marvin claims are filed not in family court, as divorces are, but in a civil action. The reason for this is that essentially it is a breach of contract suit. It is an allegation that an expressed or implied contract existed between the two partners.

On a special note, it is possible to file a Marvin Claim as part of your divorce. This normally happens if you lived together with your partner for an extended period of time or acquired assets while living together before you were married to each other.

Some basic issues to consider in evaluating a Marvin Claim include how long the parties live together, each partner’s contribution towards the purchase of any property and if one of the parties supports the other.

Marvin Claim Defenses 

If you are facing a break-up with a long-term partner that you lived with, there are some defenses you can claim. As with any civil claim Marvin claims have a statute of limitations. There is also a test of whether the partnership was a relationship. For example, if your relationship, especially the sexual part, was paid for then it was not really a relationship at all.

A consultation with an attorney can let you know what terms strengthen your claim or strengthen your defense against the claim. Although a family attorney can give you important legal advice on Marvin and file a claim in civil (not family court), unless it is part of a divorce petition that has or will filed in family court.