If you call to schedule an appointment with an attorney for a divorce consultation, it is critical to know where to start and what information or documentation to bring with you.
Basic background information such as the actual date of marriage, where the marriage ceremony took place, and whether any children were born during the marriage are important. It sets the tone for other issues such as child support, spousal maintenance, etc.
In addition, bring along a copy of your prior year’s tax return, recent paystubs for yourself and your spouse, and a breakdown of living expenses for a given month. An example of living expenses in a given month would be: the cost of rent/mortgage, average monthly grocery bills, utilities, clothing, monthly credit card debt payments, and health/car/homeowner’s insurance premiums. You do not need to bring in everything, but you want the attorney you are consulting to have an overall idea of your monthly living expenses and how much income comes into your household.
Next, bring with you a list of all the assets you can think of even if you are not 100% sure they are important. Examples include, your residence, second homes or condos, land, each bank account that you have individually or with your spouse, each savings account, stock accounts, life insurance policies, mutual funds, etc. Also jot down the value or worth of each item. Once you retain an attorney, you can provide the most recent statements for each account or item, but that is not necessary if you are at the preliminary stages of meeting with an attorney for the first time.
Putting a copy of all of these items into a simple folder that you can carry around is also very helpful both for you and your attorney.
When you meet your attorney for the first time, you should feel like you “click” with him or her. I run across people who frequently tell me they are intimidated by their lawyer or are nervous around the person who they have hired to advocate for them. Finally, if you hire the attorney you consult with, make sure to carefully review your retainer, have a firm understanding as to how you will be billed, and stay on top of your invoices which you should receive once a month unless you enter into some type of flat fee arrangement.
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