What to Expect from an Initial Consultation


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Marlana Caruso, Contributing Author

So, you have to meet with a divorce attorney for an initial consultation.  For many people, the very thought of meeting with an attorney is overwhelming.  Thoughts of “what do I bring” or “what do I ask” automatically pop into your head.  Well, hopefully this article will answer a few of those questions and make that initial meeting a little less confusing.  I would like to start by letting you know there isn’t anything you are required to bring with you for your initial meeting; however, there are a few things that you can do to ensure you make the most out of your consultation.

First off, know what kind of attorney you are meeting with! No, I don’t mean what kind of person the attorney is (though that would be nice); I mean know what type of law the attorney practices. You will accomplish nothing if you need to discuss what the new child support law means and you are meeting with an attorney that only practices criminal law. So do your homework, and make sure you are in the right place: An attorney that specializes in family law.

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Writing down a list of important questions will help get the most out of your initial consultation.

Now that we are in the proper place, set yourself up for success and make the most of your initial meeting by jotting down all of the questions you would like to ask. Don’t put more pressure on yourself to try and remember every question you have; write down everything that pops in your head. Once you are in the initial meeting, you will be getting a lot of information and you are bound to forget that one question you really wanted answered.

Writing down a bullet-point list of the items you really want to cover will let you interact with the attorney more confidently and ensure that you receive information on the points you believe are important. The attorney will let you know whether or not there is enough information available to provide you with an appropriate response.

If your case isn’t filed yet, there isn’t anything more than your list of questions and a pad of paper to take notes that you will need.  Congratulations!

If your case is already filed, you have a little more prep to do. Be sure to bring any documents that have already been filed, but most importantly, bring something that has your case information (the address where the case is taking place, the parties names and your case number). If there are any appearances scheduled, be sure to bring the notice from court.

If your case involves a modification of prior orders, be sure to bring the relevant orders (i.e. the parenting plan, separation agreement, child support order, etc.) that are in question. These documents give the attorney important information on the immediate requirements for your case and lets the attorney tailor any advice he might provide based on the jurisdiction and your judge.

Last but not least, be sure to bring a list of goals with you.  If you have children, what would your ideal parenting plan look like? If there are financial matters at issue, how would you like the court to divide some of the assets and/or debts?  These goals will, and should, adjust as your case goes forward; however, providing your attorney with your ultimate goals for the case will ensure that the attorney is working towards making those goals a reality from the very beginning.

The initial consultation is your opportunity to get all of your basic questions pertaining to an impending or ongoing divorce answered. Since many firms charge for this meeting, it is important to come organized and ready to listen so that you get the most value out of your time. You’ll walk out of your initial consultation much more confident and prepared for the coming challenges if you simply do your research ahead of time and walk into the session prepared.

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