The top 5 things to consider and be ready to discuss at your initial divorce consultation. When thinking about post divorce goals, the following information will assist your potential lawyer advise you.
1. Budget Summary
To know what things will look like during the divorce process and to prepare for life post divorce, it will be helpful to plan what your needs may be and how you intend to meet those needs. Are you going to continue to live in the marital house? How much is the mortgage? Monthly bills and upkeep? Do you need to look at apartments? Look for roommates? Think about how much you spend on auto expenses (gas, insurance, tolls, parking); cell phone; Internet; utilities; credit cards and other debts (including student loans). Will you have expenses for kids? Private school, daycare, extracurricular activities, clothing, grooming, medical expenses? Find a good budget worksheet and fill it in to the best of your ability ahead of the consultation.
This should also include an overview of your income and expected income from any sources. if you have a pay stub, bring that as well. If you have a copy of your spouse’s pay stub, a copy of that may also be helpful to your attorney.
2. List of Assets and Liabilities
To the extent you can access information regarding your assets and debts, that information is helpful to your attorney. If there are bills due monthly, any you can plan to push out over time, any you can pay off with assets you already have? You can work with your attorney on the best short and long term plan in dealing with assets and liabilities.
3. Timeline of Relevant Facts of Marriage
It is very helpful for your attorney if you have a list of facts including the date and location of marriage; any moves throughout your marriage; when children were born or adopted or otherwise brought into your home – and their names; any incidents of counseling, healthcare issues that may be relevant, issues with children that may be relevant; and instances of any family violence, verbal abuse, financial abuse, emotional abuse, physical abuse, and sexual abuse during your marriage, as well as any affairs or other issues you think may come up (that can be used in your favor and those that may be used against you).
4. Any Legal Documents
If you have a prenuptial agreement or post marital agreement, please bring that to your initial consultation.
If any documents have been filed in the divorce case or in any cases regarding the children, including any police reports, CPS reports, etc., take those to your consultation.
If you have been served with any documents in the divorce, bring those to your attorney as they may trigger deadlines that the attorney needs to work under.
Any other lawsuits that involve you, your spouse, and/or your children should be brought to the attention of your attorney early.
If you or anyone else has a trust in place or are the beneficiary or trustee of a trust, bring a copy to your attorney.
If you own any businesses, individually or with your spouse, or if your spouse owns any business interest, bring all legal documents regarding those businesses so the attorney can assess accordingly.
5. Bring a List of Questions
If you are at a divorce consultation, it may be emotional and overwhelming. List your questions and concerns ahead of the consultation and bring those with you to ensure your questions are addressed by your attorney. Include questions about likely outcomes; the divorce process; and costs/billing.
Other important questions address how to communicate with your attorney – is email best, scheduling phone calls? How frequently? How quickly will the attorney typically respond? And how are you billed for emails and calls?
Ask about local rules of the court and standing orders (if any). Ask about timelines for the divorce process. Ask whether you will need experts or other witnesses, the costs of those, and the strategy and timeline for hiring experts.