What do I need to bring to a divorce attorney consultation?
One of the common questions asked initially of divorce lawyers is, “what should I bring with me to my divorce consultation?”
Prior to actually hiring a divorce lawyer, it’s common to first have an initial consultation with the law firm to get an understanding of your case. Usually this entails a sit down meeting with a lawyer to discuss your situation. This is also an opportunity for you to ask questions and better familiarize yourself with the lawyer you may hire.
To have the most effective divorce consultation possible, it’s best to come prepared with a few items.
After you have scheduled your initial divorce consultation, here are five things that we recommend bringing with you:
1 – Bring a List of Questions You Have
As mentioned, this is the perfect time to ask the divorce lawyer about any questions you may want answers to. This may include things such as, “what are my options?” or “what is a realistic timeline for my case?”
The more questions you are able to get answered in this time, the better. It help put your mind at ease while also helping the divorce lawyer get a better idea of your situation and expectations.
There is no question too simple or complex. If you have them, feel free to ask. To help give you an idea of some commonly asked questions we receive about divorce, this frequently asked questions resource may help.
2 – Consider Bringing Pay Stubs
It’s common for divorce attorneys to ask how much money both you and your spouse make. When determining items such as child support payments, these will be important pieces of information that will be taken into consideration.
By bringing pay stubs with you, this will aid in making more accurate estimates on how much money may be awarded in some cases. If you can, bring pay stubs from the last three months. This will help alleviate any question regarding how much each spouse brings in each month.
3 – If You Have Tax Returns, Bring These
Sometimes it’s understandably a little tough to round up three months worth of pay stubs. If you are unable to, a tax return may actually be even more helpful, since it’s gives a better picture of yearly income and your financial situation.
To obtain a copy of your tax return you may do so online directly from the IRS website here.
4 – Bring Prenuptial Agreements and Other Documents Related to Your Marriage
If you have a prenuptial agreement, this something you will certainly want to bring as it will help in preparation of a divorce agreement. In addition to agreements relating to your marriage, if children are involved, you may also consider bringing their birth certificates. Documents such as these can assist in the event there are questions involving custody, or if your case ends up going to trial.
When having your divorce consultation, the goal is for you get your questions answered. Likewise, it is also the divorce lawyer’s goal to get a better understanding of your situation so they can best advise on next steps for your divorce. This will also help them to provide timelines and expectations with you.
5 – Any “Incriminating” Evidence
In the event you are seeking a “fault divorce,” you’ll want to bring any evidence which is considered incriminating. This may include photos, posts on social media, or any other evidence that provides proof of any abuse, cheating, etc. While Texas does allow for “no fault divorces,” this sort of evidence may create weight in your favor if you are seeking specific awarding in your divorce, such as being awarded custody of children.
How to Prepare for a Divorce: The Consultation
The first step for many people going through a divorce is to find a lawyer. When you find a lawyer you’re interested in, you’ll attend a consultation. This initial meeting will help you get to know the lawyer and give you the chance to ask some questions.
Many people wonder what to expect during their first meeting with a divorce attorney. What will happen during your consultation will depend on where your divorce case is at.
For example, in some cases, divorce papers have already been filed. In many cases, the couple has already discussed the divorce and decided to work together through the process rather than fighting in court.
On the other hand, some clients seek a divorce attorney due to an emergency situation. Perhaps they are the victim of domestic abuse or their soon to be former spouse is acting irrationally.
Your specific circumstances will dictate exactly what is discussed and what actions are taken during your consultation.
Being Prepared is Key
Being prepared will help give you the best chance to protect your interests during the divorce.
In most cases, a client comes in with a list of questions about getting divorced. Papers may have been recently filed or will be filed soon. Your lawyer will talk you through the various avenues your divorce can take and what each step looks like.
Your attorney will ask you a lot of questions. It’s important that they get to know you and your situation.
After your consultation, you may be asked to do some research to learn as much as you can about your finances, assets, liabilities, and regular expenses. It’s important for both parties to have a clear understanding of their shared assets, debts, and incomes.
It’s also important to note that this meeting is confidential.
How Do You Know if a Lawyer is the One?
Going through a divorce can be one of the most stressful things you do in your lifetime. As a result, it’s imperative that you choose an attorney who understands your needs, both psychologically and financially.
You should feel confident that the attorney you choose is competent. You can do research prior to your initial consultation to determine this.
When it comes to meeting in person, the right attorney for you should clearly and carefully answer your questions and explain their processes. They should be compassionate and sensitive to your emotional state.
You should leave your consultation feeling like you have a good idea of the next steps and what to expect.
Questions to Ask Your Attorney
Your consultation is your chance to ask your attorney some important questions. You might have an idea of how things are going to go, but it’s important to have an open line of communication with your attorney.
Here are some questions that you absolutely must ask:
- Do you handle cases other than divorce and family law cases?
- How much experience do you have handling divorce cases?
- What is your fee structure?
- How will you communicate about my case?
- What should I expect during the divorce procedure?
- How will a decision be made about custody of my children?
- Will I owe or receive alimony or spousal support?
- How will our marital assets be divided?