Preparing for the Initial Consultation
The initial consultation with a divorce attorney can be extremely helpful in setting the tone for a productive working relationship between you and your lawyer going forward. Our consultations typically last up to an hour, during which time we learn more about your case, help you to set realistic goals for a successful resolution, and develop a customized strategy for achieving those goals as quickly and cost-effectively as possible.
Here is a checklist of items that you should have with you so that you can make the most of your initial consultation.
- A List of Questions: Our consultations are more like strategy sessions. While many lawyers try to be as vague and noncommittal as possible in the beginning, we prefer to get into the specifics of your case right away so that we can give you the detailed advice you need in order to proceed. Likewise, this is your opportunity to learn more about us, the legal process, and to get the information that you need to make an informed decision. You should feel free to ask any and all questions you have. We will do our best to answer them all as thoroughly as we can in the time provided.
- Pay Stubs: The parties in a divorce or family law case are almost always required to disclose certain financial information, including income numbers. This information is useful in calculating child support, determining whether a party is entitled to alimony, or assessing whether attorney’s fees should be awarded. You should be prepared to produce at least three months of pay stubs for yourself and, if you have access to them, the other party.
- Tax Returns: Tax returns can often provide a more complete and comprehensive picture of both parties’ financial situations than pay stubs alone can. For example, tax returns could show property ownership, deductions, refunds, or they may indicate additional sources of income.
- Legal Documents: It is important that you provide us with copies of any court documents in your possession. This includes the summons, petitions, motions, or other documents filed or served by you, on your behalf, or by the other party in your case. Additionally, if any court orders or judgments have been issued, be sure to bring those with you as well.
- Written Agreements: If you and the other party have entered into any prenuptial agreements, postnuptial agreements, settlement agreements, or other written contracts, you should be prepared to provide a copy to us at the initial consultation. This will allow us to determine whether the agreements are valid and what impact, if any, they may have on your case.
- Schedule of Assets and Liabilities: You should be prepared to provide a list of property that you (and your spouse) own, as well as a list of your debts. Property includes both real estate and personal property such as bank accounts, retirement accounts, family businesses, cars, boats, and jewelry. Some typical debts may include mortgages, student loans, and credit card debt. Being as thorough as possible will allow us to get a more accurate view of your financial situation and we will be better able to assess any strengths or potential issues with your case.
Preparing for your initial consultation is the first step toward a successful resolution of your case. Therefore, it’s also important to think realistically about your goals before you meet with us. If you are seeking alimony, you should be prepared to say approximately how much financial support you need and for how long. If you want the court to award a particular asset to you, you should be ready to explain, in your own words, why. Remember that your consultation with us is confidential. So, you should feel free to be open and upfront about your goals and desired outcomes.