If you are contemplating a divorce, one of your first steps should be to set up an initial consultation with a lawyer to discuss your personal circumstances and explore the options you may have available. In order to get the most out of your consultation, you will want to come prepared.
Here are seven steps you can take to get ready for your initial divorce consultation:
- Learn about Your Options for Getting Divorced
When most people picture a divorce, they picture a messy, complicated, and expensive process that involves both spouses airing their grievances in court. But, the reality is that relatively few divorces follow this path. Far more often, divorcing spouses are able to work together, using a variety of different methods to reach an amicable solution that serves each of their respective interests as well as those of their children.
When preparing for your initial divorce consultation, you should take the time to learn about negotiation, mediation, and collaborative divorce. By gaining a better understanding of these options, you will be better able to discuss the best strategy for your divorce.
- Understand the Issues that Will Require Resolution During Your Divorce
In addition to understanding the methods for resolving the issues in your divorce, it will also be helpful to make sure you understand exactly what those issues are. In a typical divorce, the spouses will need to come to terms (either amicably or through litigation) with regard to:
- Copy Your Financial & Property Records
In order to move forward with your divorce, you will need to make sure you (and your attorney) have a clear picture of all of the assets and sources of income that are – and aren’t – subject to division. As a result, it can be helpful to begin compiling your family’s financial and property records as you get ready for your initial consultation. As a starting point, it will be helpful to provide your attorney with copies of:
- Bank, retirement, and investment account statements
- Property deeds and titles
- Family business records
- An inventory of non-titled assets (such as furniture, collections, and jewelry)
- A list of items that you or your spouse owned prior to your marriage
- Your prenuptial or postnuptial agreement (if any)
- Think about What You Want from Your Divorce
Getting divorced necessarily involves an element of compromise. In order to avoid going to court, you and your spouse will need to agree on how you will split your marital assets, you will need to agree on the terms of your custody arrangement, and you will need to come to terms regarding alimony that are mutually-satisfactory.
When preparing to meet with a divorce attorney, it will be helpful to spend some time thinking about what matters the most to you in your divorce. Do you want to keep the family home? Do you have specific wants or needs with regard to child custody? These are just a couple of the questions you will want to consider thoroughly.
- Make a List of Other Considerations or Circumstances that May Impact Your Divorce
Everyone’s circumstances are different, and in order to provide personalized legal advice, your attorney will need to know all of the relevant details of your personal and family life. Other considerations might include:
- Do you have children from a prior marriage?
- Do you suspect that your spouse has been unfaithful?
- Have you foregone employment or business opportunities during your marriage?
Try to make a list of any family or finance-related issues that you think might possibly be relevant, and your attorney will be able to quickly tell you if they will play a role in your divorce.
- Do Some Preliminary Research Online
These days, there is no shortage of information online. In order to get the most out of your initial consultation, it can be helpful to do some preliminary research. Of course, keep in mind that not everything you read online will be (i) entirely accurate, or (ii) relevant to your personal circumstances.
- Prepare a List of Questions
Finally, prepare a list of questions to ask your attorney. We have provided some suggestions, but you should not be afraid to ask your own questions as well.