The decision to get a divorce is one of the most important decisions you will ever make. A divorce impacts nearly every facet of your life: your marriage, your kids, your income, your savings, your house, and all of your assets. Therefore, it is important to education yourself on the process, be informed, be ready, and seek the best legal representation that you can find and afford. This is your life and you shouldn't settle for anything less than the best. To prepare to meet with an attorney, there are a few practical, and easy things you can do:
1. Bring a list of your property, assets, debts, and other financial information that you know about. If you don’t have any of this information, we can obtain it for you as the process moves forward. If possible, bring financial documents and records for the divorce attorney to review during the initial consultation. Include as many of the following documents as possible:
- recent pay stubs
- tax returns for the past 3-5 years
- bank statements and credit card statements
- pension and any other retirement and employment benefits either you or your spouse is entitled to receive, including year end bonuses, health insurance, and life insurance
- copies of deeds to real property and statements of any mortgages or equity loans that are due
2. Make a list of all of your questions for the attorney. No question is too small or too trivial. Your consultation with an attorney is an opportunity for you to educate yourself about the divorce process, interview the attorney, and gain an idea of what to expect for an outcome to your case.
3. Think about how you would like to see your life after your divorce is over. What is your wish list? What issues are important to you and what issues are not? If you are not open with your attorney about what you want and how you want to approach the case, then he/she will not be able give you the best representation possible.
4. Think about your spouse’s strengths and weaknesses as a parent. Do you both act in the children’s best interests? Why or why not? Be prepared to tell your attorney why it is you want custody of your children and what would be your ideal schedule for the children to have parenting time with your spouse. Children's issues are often the most difficult and most contentious in the case. By preparing yourself to deal with these issues, and being prepared to discuss them from day 1 with your attorney, your attorney will be better able to suggest strategies and solutions for dealing with custody and visitation issues.
While there are many more things that you can do to prepare yourself to meet with an attorney, these are a good start and, generally, will provide your attorney with enough information to evaluate your case and get your case started.