How Does A Family Law Assessment Work in Massachusetts?

Facing change in your family life or your financials can seem overwhelming. One of the best medicines for fear and worry is action. And when there’s a family law issue involved, the best first step is to reach out to a reliable lawyer for advice. That’s where an assessment comes in.

Different firms handle assessments differently. At Farias Family Law, we offer a comprehensive assessment session during which you meet with one of our attorneys on video for approximately 45 min. During this session, you give us information about what the issues are, some history, and financial information. We then give you a detailed analysis of your particular circumstances, explain your options, help you develop a plan, and answer your questions.

Although there is a fee for the assessment, there is no obligation for either side going forward: you tell us your story, explain what worries you, and tell us about your goals. We then provide a comprehensive analysis and advise you on what you should do. Finally, we answer all your questions. The ultimate goal is not to sell you legal services, but rather to put you in a position to make an educated decision about how to proceed. Sometimes you need the help of an attorney, sometimes you don’t.

If you want our help beyond the assessment, we can discuss your options. We’re selective about the cases we accept. For example, if a person has bad motives or there are indicators that the person is not a good fit for our firm values and the way we operate, it’s best for both parties not to work together. At the end of the meeting, if your case is a good fit for the firm and you’re interested in our services, we can discuss your options and pricing.

By the way, this is a different product than a “free consultation,” offered by many firms. The benefit of a free consultation is that you pay nothing. But that’s about where the value ends. Most successful law firms are not willing to dedicate a significant amount of unpaid time to educating a prospective client and dissecting the person’s individual circumstances. That takes time.

Instead of offering a reliable assessment, with specific advice on what you should do and how best to handle your circumstances, a “free consultation” is often a quick meeting that essentially amounts to a sales pitch to convince you to sign up with the firm—sometimes even when it’s not in your interest to do so.

For example, some people come to our office wanting to file immediately. However, after we dissect what’s happening, we may conclude that the person shouldn’t file at all, or in some cases, at least not immediately. And sometimes, we can offer information that allows the person to proceed without a lawyer.

Because they’re shorter, free consultations are usually not in-depth assessments. Therefore, it becomes very difficult for the firm offering a free consultation to provide reliable advice based on the limited information they gather during that short period of time.

Another problem with free consultations is that there often isn’t enough time for the firm to offer details on how the process works and explain what the person can expect. Which brings us back to the problem that insufficient information causes more stress than is necessary.

When family law issues are on the horizon, investing in a family law assessment is a wise first move.

If you have any family law questions, feel free to contact us.d

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