It's normal to have hesitations and questions when hiring a lawyer, especially for something as personal as a divorce or other family law matter. Your lawyer will represent you for months or years to come, and they'll know the most intimate details of your life. You need someone that you can trust will handle the most sensitive issues with care.
At Nichols Gelmann, we pride ourselves on taking a human-centered approach to the law, and we’d be honored to earn your trust. You have our commitment to always be transparent and communicate honestly with you in all aspects of your representation. We don’t shy away from hard questions, and we’ll never give you the runaround.
There’s no avoiding the fact that dealing with legal issues can be an emotional and challenging process. Having clear-eyed expectations of what to expect every step of the way helps us start our relationship on solid ground.
So, what can you expect when you work with Nichols Gelmann? Let’s dig in.
The first step in hiring Nichols Gelmann is an Initial Consultation. When booking a consultation, you'll be required to pay for this meeting upfront. Why? Well, our call won't just be a meet and greet. The Initial Consultation is the first step in beginning substantive work together on your case.
We'll discuss key background information to understand the facts at hand, and we'll ask you to describe your goals. If we could wave a magic wand, what do you want the future to look like? With your goals in mind, we'll begin to design a strategy to help get you there. We'll also give you our initial impression of the challenges and potential tradeoffs to consider as we walk that path together.
If we're the right fit for you, we'll discuss the terms of our Engagement Agreement and Retainer (also known as a Trust Deposit), which are required to formally hire us.
Once you've retained us, we start digging further into everything discussed in our consultation. We'll ask you to provide more detailed information and send us documents that are pertinent to your case so we can evaluate the issues and analyze your case to form our strategy moving forward.
For most family law matters, we need proof of income (tax returns and related documents, paystubs, etc.), documentation of assets & liabilities (property deeds, mortgage statements or other loan documents, bank and investment account statements, etc.), and anything else specific to your case (documentation of any extraordinary circumstances based upon your job or family situation such as mental or physical disabilities, career-specific benefits or considerations, etc.).
As the full details come into focus based upon the information you send us, we refine our strategy to achieve your desired goals. We outline the immediate steps necessary to protect your interests as relevant to the case (e.g. addressing any pertinent court filings, protecting your and/or your children's physical and emotional well-being, ensuring you have access to your home, etc.) and we solidify our point-of-view on what factors need to be considered in the pursuit of your goals.
We'll remain in contact with you through our secure and convenient client portal, phone calls, and/or in-person & virtual meetings to ensure any key questions we have are clarified.
Perhaps the most important step of the process, we'll take time together to discuss our proposed strategy, share our insights into the main issues of your case, and ensure you're aware of any factors that may present challenges along the way. Our goal in this step of the process is to be fully on the same page and cover all of the nitty gritty details of what you should expect from this point forward.
This can be one of the hardest discussions that we'll have during our relationship, as this is when expectations and reality first collide. We'll be giving you our unvarnished assessment of the potential paths available to us, and what our cost/benefit analysis is for each. Though we may have to tell you some hard truths, being aware of what the risks are is part of how we prepare you for the road ahead.
This is it, where the rubber meets the road. Once we've agreed to our strategy and plan, we jump into action on your behalf. This can take many forms case-by-case, but always involves getting in touch with the other side to have lawyer-to-lawyer discussions, and frequently involves court filings to remain in compliance with any existing court-mandated steps.
So, now for the big question...what does all of this cost?
The legal process is expensive, and you should be wary of anyone that tells you otherwise. We've had matters that cost thousands of dollars, matters that cost tens of thousands of dollars, and matters that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Generally speaking, the lower the level of conflict involved in a case, the lower the ultimate cost.
While we make every effort possible to achieve your desired goals as cost effectively as we can, there are two unavoidable complicating factors: 1) people are messy and unpredictable, and 2) the courts are inefficient.
Despite our collective decades of experience, it is simply not possible to predict with 100% certainty how all parties involved in a case will behave, or what new circumstances will arise as your case proceeds. We often have to adapt our strategy as those realities unfold. For any legal issue, the realm of possible outcomes is broader—and it will nearly always be more cost efficient—when we handle a matter outside of court, but litigation may be the preferable path. It all depends on your goals and desired approach.
If you still have questions, our Frequently Asked Questions may help give you a better sense for the ins and outs of common family law issues.
If you're ready to start the process, we'd love to hear from you. You can book an initial consultation with us at the link below.