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California: Enhancing Communication With Your Attorney
(provided by Steven Carlson, The Custody Coach™)

There are several ways in which you can communicate with your divorce lawyer, but some methods may be more effective than others. When a marriage dissolves there are several important topics that need to be discussed and sorted out, such as child custody, visitation, division of property, and support. Communicating effectively with your attorney about such issues will help your lawyer properly gather the information that he or she needs to put your case together and can reduce your attorney's fees at the same time.


Meeting with your attorney in-person is often a wise choice when there is an extensive amount of material to review. When you meet with your attorney face-to-face, there is less chance for distraction and it is more likely you will have the attorney's undivided attention. Any material you or your attorney may have can be reviewed and any questions can be addressed. Each party will have an equal opportunity to discuss and cover important details. Additionally, the amount of time spent in an in-person meeting is traceable and should be reflected accurately on your billing statement.


Assuming your attorney checks his or her e-mail regularly, email communications can be very effective, especially if a response is not needed immediately or an attachment needs to be sent. Unlike faxes, there is usually no charge to receive an e-mail. However, there will be a cost for your attorney to review and respond to your e-mail. Therefore, it is extremely important to keep your e-mail concise and to the point. This is often a difficult adjustment for those who have a tendency to write wordy e-mails. Further, depending on how savvy your attorney is with technology, he or she may spend more time in an e-mail communication than if the message were communicated via phone or fax. Further, the amount of time an attorney actually spends in an e-mail communication is virtually untraceable, so you will want to closely monitor your bill to make sure the charges are reasonable.


One of the most common forms of communication you may have with your attorney is via telephone. Telephone communications can be very effective, especially when you or your attorney have a quick question. Such communication is quick and timely. Additionally, the time spent on the telephone is the most traceable form of communication, as it may be recorded on your phone bill and should be reflected accurately on your attorney bill. However, problems may arise when more than a couple of questions need to be covered. Long telephone calls can be subject to distractions and retaining large amounts of information can become an issue.


Communications with your attorney via fax can be very useful. For example, when a lengthy document needs to be reviewed or if your signature is required on a document (and a faxed copy of your signature is acceptable), faxes can save you an unnecessary trip to your attorney's office or the wait time associated with mailings. Like the postage fee for a mailing, there may be a cost associated with the fax, such as the call charge or the time a person in your attorney's office had to stand in front of the fax to send or receive documents.


Communications with your attorney via mail can be very effective when the review of a particular document is not extremely urgent. Additionally, any serious issues or requests you may need to make upon your attorney may be best done in writing. Mailings are a common way that attorneys keep their clients informed, and may also be the best way to provide a client with copies of filings and communications with opposing counsel. Mailings are easy to organize and typically easy to manage.

Choosing the right method of communication can significantly enhance the effectiveness of your attorney.

Information provided by:
Steven Carlson, The Custody Coach™ located at

Recommended Resources:
California Divorce Source
California Divorce Laws
California Community Forum
California Divorce Resources

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