Frequently Asked Questions about Working with Our Firm

We’ve provided answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about working with our firm below.


What is a retainer?

A retainer is an amount specified in your Retainer Agreement that you pay in advance of services performed. Throughout your case, any costs for work conducted will be deducted from your retainer. You may be asked to replenish your retainer during your case or, if your case is resolved before all funds are used from you retainer, any unearned amount will be returned to you.

Why is a paralegal working on my case?

By bringing a paralegal in to assist with your case, we are able to save you money on tasks like conducting legal research, drafting certain pleadings, or examining and organizing documents relevant to your case. A paralegal is not able to give you legal advice, but does work closely with the attorney to handle tasks efficiently.

Why do I need a consultation?

We begin the process with a one-hour consultation to better understand your personal circumstances. By doing so, we are able to offer you more specific information regarding the facts of your case and answer in-depth questions about the process moving forward. Also, you can think of the consultation as an interview – you want to make sure that the attorney you hire to handle such important personal matters is the right fit for you.

If I already have an attorney, can I hire a new attorney?

In short, yes. Your needs may change throughout your legal case so you may feel it necessary to seek new representation. There are a few methods of changing attorneys, all of which we would be happy to discuss with you.

What type of financial documents should I keep?

Documentation is an important part of any legal case. You should maintain records of tax returns, bank statements, credit card statements, retirement statements, pay stubs, bonus or commission statements, mortgage statements, money market account statements, insurance costs, and household bills. This list is not exhaustive; you may be asked to provide many other types of financial documentation.

Do I get to choose which attorney I work with?

We pride ourselves on our team approach to assisting you with your family matter. Our approach is designed not only to ensure that there is always an attorney available and familiar with your case, but also to maximize efficiency. That being said, if you feel more comfortable with one of our attorneys over another, we will do our best to accommodate your requests. All firm cases are supervised by Ms. Ingram.

How often do I need to meet with my attorney in-person?

It is important to meet with your attorney and prepare prior to any court appointments, mediations, depositions, etc., but there may be a time lag between those meetings. We welcome the opportunity to meet with you (virtually, telephonically, or in person) as often as needed and to ensure that your questions are being answered throughout the process. We prefer face to face communication with our clients, even when virtual, as we believe face to face is the most effective form of communication.

Do I have to live in Maryland to hire you?

No, you do not need to live in Maryland to hire us. We represent clients that reside throughout the United States and abroad, when they have cases to be heard in Maryland Courts. If you do not live in Maryland, we can work with you via telephone and/or video calls. We are largely paperless and will also communicate with you via e-mail and through our cloud-based client portal. We strive for excellent communication with our clients, be they local or long-distance, and we will do our best to tailor our communication style to your needs.

What payment methods can I use?

We accept cash, checks, cashier’s checks, and money orders. We accept all credit cards, except American Express.

What happens during the consultation?

The consultation is your time and we will tailor our work to your needs. Generally, the attorney will begin by asking you some standard questions to identify relevant issues to be addressed during your consultation. The attorney will gather information from you and educate you about the law and process options best calculated to lead to your desired outcome. You will be given an opportunity to ask questions throughout, or at the end, to gain a deeper understanding. If there are any relevant documents or court records for your case, the attorney may review those documents to answer your questions and identify additional issues to be discussed. We will not follow-up with you after your consultation, and will wait to hear from you if/when you are ready to retain our firm.

What if I share an email address with my spouse?

Our firm is largely paperless. While we often communicate with clients and share documents through email, we can handle business by telephone or regular mail, if necessary. Our clients are provided with a Clio client portal where they can access e-mails and other documents. Your client portal does require a secure e-mail address. We recommend that clients obtain a personal, individual email address and make sure that all of your passwords are secure.

Once I hire an attorney, do I have to do anything else?

Hiring an attorney is an important first step. While we will work diligently on your behalf, you will also have required tasks to support our efforts. You will be asked to review and provide input on our written work, as well as the case strategy we develop for you. Your attorney may give you “homework”, depending on where you are in the process. Your active participation in all stages of your case will save your attorney time and as a result, it will also reduce your legal fees. No one knows the facts of your case and the needs of your children, better than you.

When do you close my case?

In general, we will close our internal office case file once we confirm that you have personally received any final orders, agreements, or necessary documentation. When we close your client file, we will issue a final invoice and a refund of any unearned retainer. If, for any reason, you feel it is more appropriate to keep your case open with our firm because of your particular situation (for example: on-going child custody concerns), that is also an option.

What happens when you close my case?

All notes, pleadings, documentation provided by you, and other such items will be kept in our digital files. We will return any original documents to you, if we have not done so already, and we will take the appropriate actions to destroy any remaining documents that we are not required to keep. Upon your request, we will provide you with an electronic copy of your closed client file.


The answers to these questions are general in nature and are not intended to create an attorney-client relationship or to replace specific legal advice. We invite you to contact our office at (301) 658-7354 to schedule a consultation, so that we can learn about the facts of your case and respond to the particulars of your unique situation.

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Shelly M. Ingram's Profile Image
Shelly has devoted her legal career to family matters both in and out of the courtroom. As a child of divorce and a person who has been divorced herself, Shelly understands the uncertainty and frustrations of custody and divorce... Read More