ARE YOUR PREPARED TO MEET WITH A DIVORCE ATTORNEY?
Many people know they are ready to file for divorce, but they don’t exactly know how to prepare for the first meeting with an attorney. If you fall into this category, don’t worry — it’s normal to not feel entirely sure how to start this process.
When you meet with an attorney, and throughout the process of divorce, you can save yourself from facing unnecessary delays and expenses by diligently doing your own homework. An attorney can most effectively meet your needs and protect your interests when he or she does not have to spend time searching for documents and records or waiting for you to provide them.
This is true throughout the course of a divorce, but is particularly true when you first meet with an attorney to discuss your divorce.
Do you have the appropriate documents?
Each divorce is different, but many of the moving parts remain consistent across the spectrum of possible divorce scenarios. When you first meet with an attorney, it is best to come with a number of different documents.
Most importantly, you should gather financial documents that help to paint a picture of your finances in the marriage. This means collecting:
-bank statements-tax returns for both you and your spouse-business records-investment account statements-credit card statements
If you own any real estate, you should gather documents with information about the property and your relationship to it, such as:
-deeds-mortgage statements-appraisals-relevant lease agreements
While there, the attorney may request further documentation. These documents should help create a realistic picture of the financial life you and your spouse share.
You should also bring copies of any premarital or post-marital agreements you and your spouse signed, as these may place additional limitations or expectations on property division and other aspects of the divorce.
Finally, it is wise to bring any documentation that may affect a custody ruling if you and your spouse have children. This may include any proof of abuse or a spouse’s criminal record (or your own).
Are you prepared to communicate honestly?
An attorney will find it more difficult to help you achieve your goals if you do not speak honestly with them about your marriage and what you hope to achieve through the divorce process. When you arrive to consult with an attorney about divorce, you must prepare to speak candidly about many things that may not feel comfortable. Remember, a divorce attorney can only help you as much as you are willing to participate in the process.
If you have these things in order when you consult with a divorce attorney, it will go a long way toward helping you understand the next steps you must take to move forward to a new season of life after marriage.