Meeting with Your Divorce Lawyer
Once you find a divorce lawyer to hire, you'll need to meet with him or her to review your case. This is also a good opportunity to discuss strategy and get a better understanding of how long it will take to finalize your divorce.
Preparing to Meet Your Divorce Lawyer
Before meeting with your lawyer, gather documents relevant to your marriage and divorce. These would include:
- Financial records, including tax returns, pay stubs and banking and brokerage account statements
- Documents detailing ownership of real estate, motor vehicles, personal items and other valuables
- Evidence to support or refute any allegations of adultery or other faults that caused the marriage to break down
You'll also want to make a list of important details and questions for your attorney. It's easy to become overwhelmed during the first meeting, and a written list will help organize your thoughts and ensure that you dont forgot anything.
At the First Meeting
During the first meeting, most divorce lawyers will want to spend time getting to know you better, learning more about your family and trying to better understand what you would like in a divorce settlement. Your attorney may also spend a lot of time educating you about various aspects of divorce in your state:
- What are the steps or stages of the divorce process?
- How long will each stage take?
- How is property typically divided?
- Is one spouse likely to be entitled to alimony payments?
- How is child custody typically awarded in your state?
- How is child support calculated in your state?
If you are still living with your spouse, or if you haven't told your spouse that you want a divorce, make sure your divorce lawyer is aware of this. Do you need to pay in cash? Can your lawyer send mail to your home address? Can he or she leave messages on your voice mail? Is your e-mail secure, or does your spouse have access to it?
Keep in mind that this meeting may set the tone for future meetings with your divorce attorney. Were you happy with the pace of the meeting? Did you feel rushed or that the attorney spent too much time explaining information to you? Before ending the meeting, make sure that you feel comfortable with your divorce lawyer, reassured by his or her advice and satisfied that your questions were answered.
After the First Meeting
Be prepared to leave your meeting with a list of items to do. Your attorney may want you to collect additional documents, make a list of personal property or compile additional information. Remember that divorce is a collaborative process between you and your divorce lawyer. You will be very involved in the process.