When taking the significant step of considering divorce, the first formal move is often a consultation with a divorce attorney. It can be a daunting process, but with preparation, you can ensure the conversation is as productive as possible. Here’s how to get ready for that initial meeting with an attorney:
1. Collect All Relevant Documentation
- Financial Records: These can include bank statements, tax returns, property deeds, mortgage papers, retirement accounts, and pay stubs.
- Marital Agreement: If you have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, bring that along.
- Personal Documentation: This includes birth certificates of children, marriage certificate, and any documentation related to previous legal actions between you and your spouse.
2. Understand Your Goals
- What are your priorities? Is it the house, custody of the children, spousal support, etc.?
- What are you willing to compromise on, and what is non-negotiable?
3. Prepare a Timeline
- Note down significant events like marriage date, dates of birth of children, dates of large purchases, and any incidents that might be relevant, such as infidelity or domestic violence.
4. Know Your Assets and Debts
- Make a comprehensive list of both marital and individual assets.
- Record any outstanding debts, like car loans, mortgages, and credit card bills.
5. Think About the Children
- If you have children, consider what kind of timesharing arrangement you want.
- Think about their current schooling, medical needs, or any special requirements.
6. Consider Your Living Situation
- Where will you live during and after the divorce?
- If you want to remain in the marital home, think about how you’ll manage this both financially and practically. Do you have the ability to refinance the marital home?
7. Questions for the Attorney
- Write down any questions you have about the process, from retainer fees to court proceedings to post-divorce modifications.
- Consider asking about the attorney’s experience, their approach to client representation, and any advice they might have for your situation.
8. Emotional Preparedness
- Divorce can be emotionally taxing. Consider speaking with a therapist or counselor in parallel with the legal process to help navigate the emotional aspects.
- Understand that the attorney is there to guide you legally and may not be trained to provide emotional support. Keeping the consultation factual can help in making the process smoother.
- Be honest: Be honest with the attorney about your situation, even if it’s uncomfortable. Divorce attorneys are there to help you, and they need to know all the facts to provide you with the best advice possible.
The consultation is an opportunity for you to get to know the attorney and for the attorney to get to know you and your situation. Be prepared, be honest, and be open to the attorney’s advice.