Once you decide you’re going to consult with a divorce lawyer, there are several steps you can take to make your first session as productive and informative as possible for both parties. You may be wondering what those steps are and be going back and forth on what questions to ask. Below you’ll find a guide that should set you up for success when you’re meeting your divorce attorney for the first time.
7 Steps to Prepare for a Consultation With Your Divorce Lawyer
1. Prepare Some Questions
Before you can ask your attorney questions about your case, you must ask yourself some first. Houstons top family divorce lawyer can’t do anything to help a client who doesn’t know what they want. So evaluate what your concerns are and create questions surrounding them.
Are your children your priority? Write down everything you want to know about custody during a divorce hearing. Is money your main concern? Ask about your payment options, how much of your shared financial assets you’re entitled to in the divorce, and whether or not you’re eligible for spousal support or maintenance.
2. Prepare Your Financial Data
The divorce attorney will ask you some financial questions you need to be ready to answer. Prepare all your statements and information so you can tell your attorney how much you earn, what you own, how much you have in savings, and how much you owe if you’re paying back any loans or a mortgage.
You’ll need to bring your tax returns, credit card and mortgage statements, proof of your income, records relating to your business (if you own one), and statements from your retirement account. There’s no such thing as bringing too much because it’s all relevant.
3. Prepare Background Information
Your attorney is going to get to know you and your family intimately during this time, so make sure they have all the information they need to do so. They’ll need your name and address and the same information for your spouse and any children you share or have raised together. If you’re raising kids from a previous marriage together, then you’ll need the other parent’s information, too.
You should be prepared to share information about your children’s education and medical provider, their social security numbers, and more. Ensure you hide nothing from your attorney and let them get to know who’s who and what’s what as soon as possible.
4. Prepare a List of Goals
What do you want to get out of your divorce? Think about this as realistically as possible and write down a list of goals you can share with your attorney. They can use the list to help determine whether or not they’d be a good fit for you and whether they think your goals are achievable in your divorce.
Your list won’t be all-inclusive. Naturally, things will come up during the divorce that you hadn’t considered beforehand. Goals regarding parenting time and asset division will likely be the main things mentioned in your list.
5. Prepare Your Budget Questions
Attorneys are expensive, and you need to enter into every attorney-client relationship fully knowing the financial responsibility you’re undertaking. Talk to your attorney about their hourly or retainer fee. You should also ask if you’ll need to pay for any travel fees, postage, and other expenses that come up for your attorney during the divorce.
Ensure you ask these questions during your free consultation with your divorce attorney, as you’ll really want to minimize spending time working with your attorney if you’re not directly working on divorce issues. It’s definitely not a cheap process! You should also avoid inquiring about a contingency fee, as this isn’t how family lawyers bill for their work.
6. Prepare Your Emotions
You’re likely going to be angry, hurt, and stressed over your divorce. These feelings are natural, but they can impact your ability to think clearly. Find a way of dealing with your emotions before meeting with your divorce attorney so you can be levelheaded and think about your goals.
Divorce attorneys understand that this is an emotional time for you, and they will be understanding and compassionate. If you’re having issues staying calm, you can also ask your lawyer to recommend a counselor or therapist who helps those going through a divorce.
7. Prepare to Compromise
You won’t always get what you want out of your divorce, so you need to be prepared to compromise. Attorneys are very hard workers, but they’re not miracle workers. Their job is to get you what is fair.
Preparing your questions and documents ahead of time will make it far easier and both you and your attorney during your first consultation. It’ll give both of you a chance to get to know each other and dig into this case from the get-go to see how well you’re going to work together throughout the divorce.