Often the hardest part of a divorce is making the first consultation appointment to interview an attorney. It takes courage to make that call.
To get the most out of the initial consultation you should be prepared to provide the following information to the attorney:
- Your name, your spouse’s name, and where you live. The names and ages of your children.
- The date you were married and the date that you separated. If you are still living together, the date when you decided the marriage was over. You may not know if the marriage is over. That is okay; the attorney will go over that with you.
- If the divorce has already been started the attorney will need to know if anything has been filed with the Court. Has your spouse served you with any paperwork? If so, you should bring copies of that paperwork.
Think about how you want to share the children.
- Do you want to jointly make decisions on things like school, healthcare, and religion?
- What kind of schedule would work best for the children to see the other parent?
Be prepared to discuss your income.
- Do you work? If so, what is your income? Bring copies of your most recent paystub and a copy of your last tax return.
- Any information you have about your spouse’s income is also important. If you and your spouse file taxes jointly that information will be included on your tax return.
Be prepared to discuss your assets.
- Do you own your home? Do you know what it is worth? Do you know how much is owed on the mortgage? Do you have a 2nd mortgage or line of credit? Do you own rental properties?
- Do you have a business? If so, bring your Profit & Loss Statement for the past year.
- Do you or your spouse have a pension or other retirement plan? Bring a copy of your statements for those accounts for the past year.
- Do you have any property that was gifted to you or that you inherited?
Do not forget about your debt.
- Do you have credit card debt?
- Do you owe money to family members or others?
After you provide all of this information to the attorney, she should be able to give you her opinion regarding your case. You should ask her questions about the process and about her recommendations. You should ask the attorney how much of her legal practice is devoted to divorce.
Some other questions you may want to ask are:
- How much will my divorce cost? How long will it take?
- What kind of child custody and visitation schedule can I expect?
- How much child support am I entitled to?
- How much spousal support am I entitled to?
- Will the other side be ordered to pay my attorney’s fees?
- Will I be able to keep my home?
- Am I entitled to part of my spouse’s retirement?
- How will the debt be divided?
I recommend that you interview more than one divorce attorney. After you have interviewed several attorneys you will know much more about your case. Do not educate your spouse about what you learn. Knowledge is power.