So, you have made an appointment with an attorney to discuss your divorce case. What should you know and what should you bring to make the consultation productive? First, expect that your consultation will be by telephone or maybe a video call. Due to COVID restrictions, almost every attorney does not offer in-office consultations. Keeping staff safe is an important consideration for every employer. In fact most of what you will be doing with your attorney will be through phone and electronic means. You should even expect that your Court hearings will be by video or phone.
If you are meeting with a family law/divorce attorney, you will want to have a certain amount of information to give to the attorney even for the initial consultation. Don’t just say “What should I know?” because there are thousands of things to know and that question will not give you what you need—which is answers to help you know what to expect in your case. The first consultation can help you understand what you are facing and how the attorney can help you—or not help you—through what likely be an ordeal. You should expect to leave the consultation with a better sense of control and understanding of the major issues in a divorce—like the division of the marital property (the house—who gets it, will it be sold? How will the cars be divided?) and the debts (credit cards, loans—who pays what.) You should leave the consultation with an understanding of spousal support, how much and for how long and what is the likelihood it will be awarded. You should have a better understanding of parenting time (custody) and how a Judge would likely rule in your case. You want an honest analysis of your case. Anything less, is disrespectful of you as the Client and means your future security is not important enough to deserve honesty. You should leave the consultation knowing that “knowledge is power” and your attorney will help you gain that knowledge and use it wisely.
All of the issues in a divorce, can be better addressed if you bring with you some general information. Specifics are not required for the first consultation, but the more general information you have, the more likely you are to get realistic answers. You don’t need to bring actual documents, you can just write some of the information down and refer to it when needed. Most often, I will address the following with my Clients at an initial consultation.