When ending a marriage, most people wind up hiring a divorce attorney. A great deal goes into choosing the best lawyer to represent you. Though the Do-It-Yourself approach is easier and more accessible than ever, it’s often in your best interest to have representation. This leads to other questions, like how do you prepare for an initial consultation with a divorce lawyer?
Preparing for an Initial Consultation With a Divorce Lawyer
These meetings often feel intimidating and overwhelming. Divorce tends to make emotions run high, and people don’t always think clearly. But it’s an important step to finding the best divorce lawyer for your case.
In order to make the most of your initial consultation, here are a few tips to help you prepare for that first meeting.
1. Collect Personal Information
This may seem obvious, but it’s surprising how often it slips people’s minds.
There’s a lot going on, and a lot to worry about. As a result, sometimes the small things fall through the cracks. But during your initial consultation, a divorce lawyer needs all of the basic information regarding your case.
This means all the basic information for you and your spouse. Among other information this includes:
- Phone numbers.
- Places of employment.
- Social Security numbers.
You should also collect:
- Recent tax documents for the last few years.
- Bank statements.
- Credit card accounts.
- Any other pertinent financial documents.
Additionally, a potential divorce lawyer needs information about your living situation and any children.
Basically, if it’s important to your case, or you think it could be, bring it along. It’s better to have it and not need it than the other way around.
Related Reading: Divorce Discovery Tools
2. Make a List of Questions
Divorce has an air of mystery around it. As such, you probably have a laundry list of questions. Good. This is where you start to get answers.
Write them down and make sure you bring them up during the initial consultation with your divorce lawyer.
These can be either big-picture questions or specific issues that pertain to your case.
The cost of divorce and how long the process takes are examples of common questions. It’s important to have an idea of the financial investment as well as a general time frame.
But be warned, both of those depend a great deal on the specifics of your situation and vary from case to case. The more complex and contentious, the more expensive and time-consuming.
Your initial consultation is also the time to address any other concerns.
You can discuss child custody, the division of property and debts, and more. If you worry about retaining assets acquired before the marriage or keeping your stake in a shared business, bring up these topics.
Talking to a divorce attorney during the initial consultation often helps take the mystery out of the process. This alleviates stress and gives you a clearer picture of what to expect in the days to come.
All in all, you should come out of this with at least an idea of what lies ahead.
Related Reading: What’s My Ex Entitled To in Divorce?
3. Know What You Want Out Of Divorce
Your divorce lawyer can’t help you if he or she doesn’t know what you want out of your divorce. It’s important to give this serious thought ahead of time.
Maybe you just want it to be over and done with. That’s fine. But since divorce often has a huge impact on your life moving forward, really spend some time figuring this out.
If you have a significant amount of shared property, think about how you’d like to divide it. Do you want to keep the marital home, a specific car, or a cherished piece of furniture?
When you have kids, consider what you want the parenting plan to look like. Do you want full child custody or regular visitation, or is once in a while good enough?
Knowing what you want helps attorneys plan the best strategy for your divorce.
The initial consultation gives you the chance to get your questions answered. It provides an opportunity to make sure that a divorce lawyer is a good fit for you and your case.
An initial consultation does not mean you’ve hired a particular attorney or that you’re under any obligation to retain his or her services. Think of it as an audition. It’s important to find the right person to fit the role. If this isn’t the person, move on.
Related Reading: Types Of Divorce In California