How To Prepare For The First Meeting With Your Divorce Attorney
The prospect of meeting with a divorce attorney can be anxiety provoking, whether you’re initiating the action or you’ve been served with divorce papers. While your divorce attorney will leverage their experience and education when representing you, the information you provide helps them develop a road map to success.
Prior to your first meeting, it’s crucial that you spend time contemplating the end of your marriage and gathering information that will enable your attorney to move forward with the knowledge that their actions are aligned with your wishes.
When you meet with your attorney for the first time, be prepared to discuss:
- Your priorities: People going through a divorce have different priorities. Some people are focused on keeping the home they are living in, while others prioritize child custody arrangements or alimony. There is no right or wrong goal; you’re the only one who can judge what you need to move forward with your life. The more you communicate with your lawyer about what you want out of the divorce, the better able they’ll be to help you get it.
- Questions: Every client has questions about the divorce process, about negotiation, and about potential outcomes. It’s best to write down your questions and bring them with you. Your attorney will let you know what to expect and will be by your side every step of the way, and you will gain peace of mind knowing that all of your questions have been answered.
- Your separation story: The prospect of a divorce can trigger a multitude of emotions, ranging from sorrow to shame to anger. It’s important that you help your attorney understand what led to the end of your marriage. For example, if abuse or adultery was a factor, it could impact everything from child custody arrangements to how property is divided. Being honest with your attorney and bringing any evidence to your meeting will lay the groundwork for success. Your attorney wants – and needs – to hear your story so they can help achieve your goals.
- Personal details: Your attorney will want to know a variety of details about you and your family. You should be prepared to provide information about the date and location of your marriage, any previous marriages for either spouse, your current living arrangements, and your date of separation (if you’re living apart). In addition, you should bring a written document that includes both of your full names, work and home addresses, telephone numbers, Social Security numbers, and dates and places of birth.
- Financial information: Divorces involve many financial details, so it is helpful to bring as much financial information as possible to your first meeting. Start with documentation about your and your spouse’s assets and debts, including investments, retirement, employment, bank accounts, real estate, credit cards, loans, and so forth. You should gather retirement or pension plan statements, bank statements, stock certificates, property tax statements, mortgage statements, tax returns, and pay stubs. You should also bring copies of car loans, promissory notes, credit card statements for the past year, and evidence of other personal debts. It is also helpful to bring a budget that outlines how much you spend every month on housing, utilities, food, clothing, entertainment, transportation, and other expenses. Finally, if you signed a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, or if you and your spouse are party to any lawsuits, bring copies of those documents as well.
- Separate property: California is a community property state, but couples seeking divorce can have separate property. If you or your spouse had assets prior to entering the marriage, or received gifts or inheritances during the marriage, bring relevant financial records to your first meeting.
- Information about children: if you have children and your divorce will involve custody, visitation, or child support issues, bring your ideal plan to your first meeting with your attorney. Also bring information about your children’s assets and what you spend supporting them each month.
Whether you’re ready to schedule your first meeting with a divorce lawyer or simply have questions, Griffith, Young & Lass is here to support you.