How to Prepare for Your First Meeting With a Divorce Lawyer
Divorce can be an overwhelming experience, and you may feel anxious about your first meeting with a divorce lawyer. Don’t fret; your lawyer is there to help you. Just make sure you come to the meeting prepared.
Learn about the divorce process
Your first step toward preparing for your meeting with your divorce lawyer is learning about the divorce process. Regardless of where you live, the process is similar. However, there are state-specific nuances, like residency requirements and waiting periods, that you’ll need to know about.
Make sure you understand your state’s requirements so you accurately file for divorce in your state. Familiarizing yourself with the process will also help you prepare relevant questions for your lawyer.
Identify your issues and areas of conflict
When you get divorced, you must figure out how to divide everything in your marriage. This can be exceptionally overwhelming, especially if you and your spouse struggle to peacefully discuss and resolve your issues.
Big issues often give divorcing couples the most trouble. Think about these questions and how you might resolve them:
- Are you and your spouse bickering about who gets what?
- Are there questions about child custody?
- What are the attitudes of you and your spouse about asset and property division?
- How long have you been married?
- Do you plan to ask for support of any kind?
- Do you anticipate having to pay support?
- Are you worried about finances?
Clarify your divorce goals
Before your meeting, consider what you want out of the divorce. Are you attached to the marital home and want to keep it after the marriage ends? Do you want full custody of your children because your spouse is abusive?
Think about the issues in your divorce and the goals you want to achieve. In doing so, you’ll formulate clearer details about what you hope to accomplish. Your lawyer can then discuss your goals with you, letting you know what’s realistic and what’s not.
List your questions
Write down any questions you have, and bring them to your meeting with your lawyer. You’ll have limited time with your lawyer, and they’ll do much of the talking, so you’ll want your talking points in front of you.
Here are some examples of questions you might ask your lawyer:
- How many divorce cases do you have at once?
- Do you practice any other areas of law besides divorce?
- What is your rate?
- What is your assistant’s rate?
- How often will I be billed?
- What other costs should I expect?
- How long do you think my case will take?
- How realistic are my goals?
- Are there any tax considerations I should think about?
- Will you negotiate terms with my spouse’s attorney, or will my spouse and I negotiate together?
- What am I missing? What other information can you give me that would help me better understand this process?
Ultimately, you must feel comfortable with the lawyer you choose. Divorce is not an easy road, and your lawyer is someone you’ll be leaning on – so pick someone you trust.
Getting a divorce is not only emotional, it’s also a deep dive into your personal life. You’ll need to share more information and documentation about yourself than you’d like. You’ll also be given tons of information that you must keep organized.
Here are some important items you might want to prepare and bring with you to your first meeting:
- Tax returns from the past two years
- Recent bank statements and credit card statements
- Retirement account information
- Mortgage details
- Property details
Compiling this information now will make it easier for you and your lawyer to complete the required forms later. The sooner you get organized, the better it’ll be for your divorce.
Bring an open mind and patience
Divorce is not something you should go through alone. Besides your lawyer, you’ll need to rely on friends and family. You may even want to set up a professional support system and begin a relationship with a therapist. That can be a great way to help you cope with the upcoming difficulties and life changes.
You’re also going to face negotiations – and you may not always get what you want. Be open and willing to accept some changes. It’s the only way you’ll get through this process with a healthy mindset.
Learn all your options
Keep in mind that you’re not required to hire a lawyer for your divorce. You always have the option of purchasing hours of flat-fee legal advice through Hello Divorce. Going this route could be cheaper while still ensuring you get your legal questions answered. Best of all, you can go at your own pace and your own budget.
Recommended reading: See a visual representation of the divorce process with our Divorce Process Flowchart