When meeting with a divorce lawyer for the first time it is important to be prepared to ask the right questions, have all the necessary information and know what outcome you are hoping to achieve
Divorce can be one of the most emotionally disturbing and difficult situations that an individual is ever likely to encounter and meeting a divorce lawyer for the first time can be a daunting prospect. Ensuring you choose the right legal representation and being able to put your trust, and essentially your future, in their hands is of the utmost importance.
It is likely that prior to your meeting (also known as consultation), a bunch of worries, concerns, and negative stereotypes will be running through your mind. Are they really on my side? Will I go broke hiring this person? Will they judge me and the breakup of my relationship? The truth is that divorce attorneys have seen it all, heard it all and could probably write a telling book with all of the stories they have gotten over the years (if they were not bound by client confidentiality), and they are experienced in matters like yours.
While it is an extremely emotional situation, it is important to keep a clear head, be sure of what you want to achieve, and be able to communicate your interests to your attorney honestly.
Points to Consider Before Your Consultation:
How do you want custody of the children to be handled?
What expectations and needs do you (or your spouse) have as far as child support?
What expectations and needs do you (or your spouse) have as far as maintenance?
What assets and debts need to be divided between you and your spouse?
These four points are often the most contested in divorce cases, so having a clear idea of your needs and expectations will be very helpful. However, try not to be rigid or too entrenched in these expectations, as your attorney may let you know that they are less than reasonable. (Which they should)
Have All Relevant Information and Documentation
As well as having a clear idea of the outcomes you desire, it is also a good idea to bring any relevant or supporting documents with you if you can. Copies of tax returns, bank statements, LLC or corporate documents, and loan agreements are useful to be able to show to the attorney. Be sure that you have the proper information as to your spouse’s address (if you are separated), place of employment and social security number. Attorneys cannot find out this information and not having it will only slow down the progress (and especially the initiation) of your case.
Make Some Notes as a Narrative of Your Marriage
There may be some incidents during your marriage that are extremely relevant and may impact the outcome of your case and you will be doing yourself a huge favor if you write them down prior to the consult so that you remember to tell the attorney about them. Take some time to sit down and go through each year of your relationship and make notes of any milestone, incident, problem, significant dispute or argument, any infidelity, legal issues, violence, or drug/alcohol use or abuse. If you can list dates and witnesses that would be useful as well. These would be issues and incidents in which your spouse was the wrongdoer and also when you were. It is important to be completely honest with your attorney about this so that he or she does not get any unnecessary surprises and also so that any information which helps you is used to its full benefit.
Divorce can be a very unpredictable time and you want to make sure that you give your attorney all of the information that you can to ensure that he or she is as prepared as possible to take you down this road.