People move. They move homes, apartments, and every now and then, they move out of state. Unfortunately, they don’t always move their family law case with them. Sometimes cases begin, or continue, after one party has left the state. In those situations, the out-of-state party needs to hire an Illinois attorney. The problem of course is not only how to hire the attorney, but also how their attorney-client relationship will shape up over state lines. Below are my thoughts on a few key points relating to hiring an out-of-state attorney.
Hire The Attorney You Trust
You should always hire an attorney you trust. This is even more important when litigating from a different state. Your attorney will need to be your eyes and ears, and there will be fewer opportunities to watch him or her advocate for you in court. In other words, you’re better off hiring an attorney you completely trust.
How do you develop that trust when face-to-face interactions are limited or eliminated? The first step is to take your time deciding who to hire. Ask your prospective attorneys for a phone consultation and be thorough with each consultation. Discuss your case in detail and ask for their thoughts. Importantly, ask them about their communication policies and how they intend to work with you despite the distance. Take notes and hire the attorney you feel most comfortable with, not necessarily the one that promises the best results.
In family law, communication is king. Cases change overnight and more contentious cases require more frequent attorney input. A good attorney will stay informed and in frequent contact to gather information, relay developments to the client, and let the client know about how the case is progressing. That means phone calls at odd hours and a reliable email response policy. If you can’t speak to your attorney, you can’t collaborate with your attorney, and that’s no way to litigate.
Planning Court Appearances
Court appearances are typically held between 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. during the work week. For out-of-state litigants, most court appearances will require at least one day off of work, perhaps more depending on the nature of the court appearance, the length of the commute, and the day of the week. Further, transportation costs are almost always paid by the traveling party. All this means that it can be difficult and expensive for an out-of-state litigant to fly into Illinois for a court appearance.
It’s important that you work with your attorney to eliminate unnecessary court appearances. Talk to your attorney about how often you’ll need to go to court and how much advance notice to expect. It’s often helpful if you explain your schedule to your attorney, so he or she knows which days of the week are best for travel.
Please feel free to contact us or more information about how Stern Perkoski Mendez works with out-of-state clients.