If you are considering divorce and consequently contacting a family law attorney with experience in handling divorces, you are well aware of the stressful situation you have found yourself in. Divorce is not an easy decision, and it can be exhausting for all parties involved. There may be a great deal of conflict in your personal life, you may experience anxiety or depression over the end of your marriage, or you may be preoccupied with concern for any children involved. It is a difficult and highly sensitive personal experience, but knowing what to expect from your initial meeting with your divorce attorney can help relieve some of the pressure you may be experiencing leading up to that initial meeting and can also help you be better prepared for the divorce process in the long run.
When planning for your initial meeting with your attorney, keep in mind that you are not required to bring anything. However, there might be some things that you will want to bring to an initial meeting with a divorce attorney that seem obvious, and there are many other things that are less obvious but could be crucial to helping your lawyer understand your particular circumstances. Additionally, having certain documents and information available for your attorney from the onset of your relationship with that attorney can also save you time and money in the long run because it allows your attorney to focus on your circumstances more efficiently from the beginning without having to track down certain things that may be needed along the way. To that end, the information below is meant to provide you with a brief overview of what you can expect at your initial meetings and what you should be prepared to provide if it applies to you. This is by no means an exhaustive introduction to your initial meeting, but can help you start thinking about what the divorce process entails and the types of things that may be needed throughout it.
What You Can Expect at the Initial Meeting
Finding the right divorce attorney is a crucial first step in the divorce process. Your attorney should make you feel comfortable and provide clear, concise explanations of the legal process involved in divorce. You should be prepared to ask questions, and you should feel comfortable enough to do so. A divorce attorney expects clients to have questions, and will do his or her best to ensure that they can answer the questions in a way that makes sense to the client. Remember, you are not expected to be a lawyer yourself, but you should make sure that your lawyer keeps you informed throughout any legal process. Scott J. Stadler has more than 26 years of experience in law, and can use that experience to make sure you feel comfortable beginning the divorce process as well as throughout it.
During your first meeting, remember that your visit is strictly confidential. Your first meeting depends a lot on your individual circumstances. You and your spouse may have already discussed divorce and may have decided to approach it collaboratively. It is also possible that you are facing a situation where your spouse is draining joint accounts or increasing your credit obligations. In other situations, divorce papers may not have been filed yet and you may need help with that process. The initial meeting will depend on which stage of the divorce process you are at, and could also depend on what you wish to gain from it. Your attorney will likely provide you with information related to the following:
● The divorce process in general;
● Division of assets;
● Implications for children involved, if any, including information about potential child support obligations for either parent;
● Potential financial obligations related to spousal support, if any; and
● The potential legal costs and other fees related to the divorce process.
You should not worry about what stage of the divorce process you are in, as your attorney can provide information appropriate to your particular circumstances. In fact, many clients have only recently made the choice to pursue divorce and may be unaware of the different options available to them.
In order for your attorney to explain these things as fully as possible, they will likely need to ask a series of different types of questions. Some questions will be very easy to answer, such as names and addresses. Others may require a lengthier answer, such as any custody arrangement you and your spouse have discussed if you have done so leading up to this point. Still other may evoke a very emotional response, such as those exploring the reason for your divorce. You are not expected to be stoic during this process, and should not feel ashamed to be completely open and honest in your answers as well as in the emotions those answers involve.
While you will not be required to provide any of this information during your initial meeting, collecting it so that it is handily available when it is needed can save you time, energy, stress, and resources. Do not worry about tracking down information that you do not have or may not have access to anymore, as your lawyer will be able to research it and obtain it. It is also important to note that some of these documents may not even apply to you, so you need not worry about whether or not you can provide them. Generally, some of the information that will be needed includes:
● A timeline of significant events within the marriage, especially events leading up to divorce;
● Any pre-nuptial agreements that may be in place;
● Tax returns for recent years, whether filed jointly or independently from your spouse;
● Identification numbers for you and your spouse, including social security numbers and driver’s license numbers;
● Current account statements, both joint and individual;
● Complete credit card statements for both joint and individual credit accounts, including the most recent balance and information about charges included in that balance;
● Information related to any pension plans or life insurance related to you and/or your spouse;
● Names and other pertinent information about children involved in the proceedings;
● Recent pay stubs and other income information for both you and your spouse;
● Any and all documentation related to the current divorce proceedings;
● Any evidence related to the grounds for your decision to divorce; and
● Documents related to any marriage therapy or separations.
This list is a good starting point for you to begin understanding the type of information that will be essential to moving forward with divorce proceedings. Remember that personal information like the items on this list that you provide to your attorney is confidential, and is protected by the attorney-client relationship.
Things to Remember Before Meeting With A Divorce Attorney
While your relationship with a divorce attorney can involve intimate details about your life and finances, attorneys cannot and should not act as therapists or financial advisors during the divorce proceedings. They may refer you to certain qualified professionals in various fields that they have worked with before, but keep in mind that you may need to enlist other professionals in the divorce process and doing so is completely within your discretion. The most important thing for you to keep in mind is that your relationship with your attorney must involve honesty and transparency in order to provide you with services that meet your individual needs. Scott J. Stadler has experience with many types of divorce and has worked with numerous clients to reach the end of the divorce process in a satisfactory manner for all parties involved, including children. While the divorce process is never easy, the right divorce attorney can unravel the complexities involved in it for you and ensure that the process is as smooth as possible to minimize the impact it can have on your life. Contact Scott J. Stadler today to schedule a divorce consultation and put his decades of experience in family law to work for you.