1. My wife and I want a Separation Agreement but we want to do it together. Should I bring her to the consultation?
Both partners can attend a consultation appointment if they want, but the lawyer can then only give them legal information, as opposed to advice, and cannot represent either of them as the case moves forward. They will each need to see a lawyer in a different law office to sign documents or go to court. For this reason, it’s usually best to have just one spouse attend.
2. Can I bring a friend to the consultation?
Yes, a friend or relative can attend if you wish.
3. My twelve year old son has some thoughts on the custody case. Can I bring him to the consultation?
No, for a variety of reasons children should not attend a family law consultation that in any way involves them.
4. I was told there has to be a “conflict check”. What is that?
Lawyers can be unable to take on a file if they are in a “conflict of interest”. Conflicts can arise if they, or another lawyer at the firm, have previously done work for the person on the other side of the file, if they have had a consultation with the person on the other side or if there is a personal or family connection to the case. Conflicts can even arise if another client at the firm might be involved in the matter (as a new or former spouse, employer, business partner or a witness to relevant events).
To prevent wasting a potential client’s time, we ask the name of the person on the other side of the case and check our files for potential conflicts. If we do find a conflict, we are prevented from giving details about it because of our solicitor/client confidentiality rules.
5. Can I speak to the lawyer before my appointment, just to ask a quick question?
There are very few quick or easy answers in family law. Each case is different and a lawyer’s advice will change depending upon a number of factors, including the current living arrangements, history of the relationship, ages of children, financial circumstances of the spouses, potential for domestic violence, physical or mental health issues, urgency of the situation, nature of assets, presence of debts, existence of on-going family court matters, existence of criminal or child protection proceedings, whether the other spouse has a lawyer etc.
For this reason, we are usually unable to properly answer a question until we have discussed the case with you at the consultation.
For general legal information in the meantime, there are helpful resources on the
Government of Manitoba website:
As well, the Community Legal Education Association has free publications:
6. I’ve been served with court papers, and they say I only have twenty days to respond. My consultation appointment is after the deadline. What do I do?
Make sure you let the other lawyer know that you’ve scheduled an appointment, and ask for an extension of time to find a lawyer. If there is a specific court date mentioned on the papers, make sure you attend court at that time. You will be able to ask the Judge or Master for an extension of time in order to hire a lawyer.
As well, make sure you let the receptionist at our office know about the court documents and deadline, and feel free to provide a copy of them right after your appointment is made.
7. My case is an emergency. Can I see a lawyer today?
If you have an emergency situation, you should contact emergency services such as the police or Child and Family Services. A police officer or Justice of the Peace at the courthouse can help you apply for a Protection Order if you need one. Legal Aid Manitoba often has lawyers on staff who are available as “duty counsel” or on short notice. The Women’s Resource Centre or YWCA Westman Women’s Shelter can help women in crisis.
8. Will I have to pay a retainer fee on the day of my consultation?
No, the retainer only needs to be provided when we open the file. You can schedule a further consultation appointment if you prefer.
9. Is there a charge if I cancel my consultation appointment?
No, there is no charge for cancelling.