Published in Family Law by Yasmin Abdelhak Barker on February 5, 2024.
Scheduling an initial divorce consultation with a divorce attorney is the first step toward getting a divorce. It is important you know how to prepare for an initial consultation with a divorce attorney. Below are a few things you can do to get the most out of your consultation.
Think Through the Most Critical Issues
When you or your spouse file for divorce, a judge cannot finalize the divorce until certain issues are resolved. You should put some thought into each of the following, considering what is relevant to your case and most important to you:
- The division of assets and debts,
- Child custody and parenting time,
- Child support, and/or
- Spousal maintenance.
By thinking through these issues in advance, you can be prepared for your attorney’s questions, leading to a more productive consultation.
Bring Important Documents with You
Before you head off to your divorce attorney consultation, it is a good idea to gather a few important documents. These documents can help answer many of the questions that your attorney will ask you during the consultation. Below is a list of things you should bring if you have them available.
Court filings/Legal Documents:
- Any filings in the present matter, if a case has already been filed;
- If you were previously represented in the present matter, your case file if you have it;
- Prenuptial agreement, if you and your spouse entered into one prior to the marriage.
- Bank statements
- Brokerage account statements
- Savings bond information
- Retirement account or pension information
- Tax returns from the past three years (including all schedules)
- Recent paychecks
- Your employment contract
- Mortgage loan statements
- Car loan statements
- Life insurance policies
- Health insurance policies
- Car insurance policies
- Statements for any other personal or secured loans, and
- A list of monthly bills and their average amounts.
Estate planning documents:
- You will
- A living will
- Trust deeds
- Power of attorney documents
- Advance healthcare directives, and
- Guardianship paperwork.
- Real estate deeds
- Real estate appraisals
- A list of vehicle and their estimated values (ie, Kelly Blue Book), and
- A list of any other potentially valuable assets, such as antiques, jewelry, collections, family heirlooms, etc.
Additionally, you might consider providing other documentation that may be considered in your case, such as text messages, e-mails, policy reports, and the like.
Of course, likely, you will not have immediate access to all of these. That’s okay; what’s important is that you have thought through these issues and bring whatever documents you have on hand. Your attorney can assist you with gathering the harder-to-find documents after the consultation.
Questions to Ask During Your Divorce Consultation
Your initial meeting with a lawyer is your chance to get the lawyer’s input about your case and make sure that the lawyer is someone with whom you want to work. Thus, it is helpful to put together a list of questions for the divorce attorney. Some of the questions you may consider asking the divorce attorney include:
- Do you handle any other cases in additional to family law matters?
- How can I reach you if I have a question about my case?
- Will you be the attorney handling my case from beginning to end?
- What do you think makes you the best divorce consultant near me?
- What level of involvement do you expect from your clients?
Of course, you may also consider asking a lawyer more personal, non-divorce-related questions to get a sense of who they are outside their role as a lawyer. Of course, these off-topic questions don’t necessarily have a bearing on their ability to handle your case. However, divorces can take months to finalize, and you must have a good relationship with your attorney.
If you are considering filing for divorce or have questions about the divorce process in Indiana, contact Eskew Law. At Eskew Law, we take a compassionate practical approach to divorce. Our focus is on two things: achieving your goals and making the process as easy on you as possible.