An estimated 40-50% of couples in the United States get divorced. This figure is even higher for those on subsequent marriages.
Divorce is a common occurrence in our society but no one prepares us for when it actually happens. A consultation with a divorce attorney can help you get answers to many divorce related questions.
Your initial divorce attorney consultation will help you prepare for your divorce, but how do you prepare for a divorce consultation? We'll break down what to expect and what to bring to your consultation.
Keep reading to learn more about how to set yourself up for success at a divorce consultation and how to prepare for a divorce.
How to Prepare for a Divorce: The Consultation
The first step for many people going through a divorce is to find a lawyer. When you find a lawyer you're interested in, you'll attend a consultation. This initial meeting will help you get to know the lawyer and give you the chance to ask some questions.
Many people wonder what to expect during their first meeting with a divorce attorney. What will happen during your consultation will depend on where your divorce case is at.
For example, in some cases, divorce papers have already been filed. In many cases, the couple has already discussed the divorce and decided to work together through the process rather than fighting in court.
On the other hand, some clients seek a divorce attorney due to an emergency situation. Perhaps they are the victim of domestic abuse or their soon to be former spouse is acting irrationally.
Your specific circumstances will dictate exactly what is discussed and what actions are taken during your consultation.
Being Prepared is Key
Being prepared will help give you the best chance to protect your interests during the divorce.
In most cases, a client comes in with a list of questions about getting divorced. Papers may have been recently filed or will be filed soon. Your lawyer will talk you through the various avenues your divorce can take and what each step looks like.
Your attorney will ask you a lot of questions. It's important that they get to know you and your situation.
After your consultation, you may be asked to do some research to learn as much as you can about your finances, assets, liabilities, and regular expenses. It's important for both parties to have a clear understanding of their shared assets, debts, and incomes.
It's also important to note that this meeting is confidential.
How Do You Know if a Lawyer is the One?
Going through a divorce can be one of the most stressful things you do in your lifetime. As a result, it's imperative that you choose an attorney who understands your needs, both psychologically and financially.
You should feel confident that the attorney you choose is competent. You can do research prior to your initial consultation to determine this.
When it comes to meeting in person, the right attorney for you should clearly and carefully answer your questions and explain their processes. They should be compassionate and sensitive to your emotional state.
You should leave your consultation feeling like you have a good idea of the next steps and what to expect.
What to Bring to Your Consultation
You should prepare for your consultation by bringing as much documentation as possible. If you don't bring anything, your attorney will have a harder time evaluating your case.
You'll have to produce this information eventually so you can expedite the process by presenting it at your consultation. These are a few of the things you should bring.
Tax returns are often the best way to get a comprehensive look at your financial situation. This is especially true if you and your spouse didn't always file a joint return.
You should bring at least 3 months' worth of paystubs for you and your spouse. This will help your attorney gain a clear picture of your finances and make an initial estimate on alimony.
You should bring any legal paperwork that is relevant to your marriage. This might include:
- Prenuptial agreements
- You and your children's social security cards and passports
- Birth certificates of children
- Documents from any prior legal proceedings involving your children or spouse
- Separation agreements
Potentially Incriminating Evidence
If there is any evidence that could be incriminating of you or your spouse and is related to the divorce, your attorney needs to know about it. This might include social media posts, texts, photos, videos, or notes documenting cheating or abuse.
Questions to Ask Your Attorney
Your consultation is your chance to ask your attorney some important questions. You might have an idea of how things are going to go, but it's important to have an open line of communication with your attorney.
Here are some questions that you absolutely must ask:
- Do you handle cases other than divorce and family law cases?
- How much experience do you have handling divorce cases?
- What is your fee structure?
- How will you communicate about my case?
- What should I expect during the divorce procedure?
- How will a decision be made about custody of my children?
- Will I owe or receive alimony or spousal support?
- How will our marital assets be divided?
Schedule Your Consultation Today
Now that you know what to expect and how to prepare for a divorce attorney consultation, it's time to take the next step.
Whether divorce papers have already been filed or your spouse doesn't even know that you're considering a divorce, meeting with an experienced divorce attorney can settle your mind and smooth out the process. If you need to schedule a consultation with a divorce attorney then feel free to contact Elkus & Sisson P.C.