The best way to get the most out of an initial consult meeting is to ask, “What I can reasonably expect given my facts?”
Be prepared to give a concise and fact-driven account of your marital, custodial and financial situation. Check the emotion at the door when possible so your emotion isn’t clouding what you hear.
A good attorney should give you a good idea of what you can expect in court and steps on how to get you to where you want to end up.
Be prepared. Have a list of questions. Know your assets and debts. Know what your wish list is for custody.
Also, be sure to listen to the attorney. Most attorneys will give you the “cliff-notes” version of the four main issues: Division of marital estate, spousal support, child support and child custody.
You will be flooded with information, so take notes for you to review later as you digest that information.
It is really important that you come prepared to your initial consultation.
I recommend that you make an outline of the facts that you want to discuss with your attorney. This will keep organized and ensure that you tell the attorney everything you think is important during a meeting that can sometimes be stressful or emotional.
You can check off each item as you go along, that way you know you have covered everything. There will be some things that the attorney will ask you about that you did not think were important, and through that process, you and the attorney will get all of the required information together to form an appropriate plan moving forward.
Finally, do not be embarrassed about anything you are telling the attorney. Everything is confidential, and the attorney is not there to judge you — he or she is there to help you. The more forthcoming you are, the better your results will be.
If the divorce has already been filed and you have paperwork, bring it to your consult so the attorney you meet with can take a look at the documents.
If you don’t have important dates memorized, find out in advance your wife’s date of birth, the date of your marriage, your children’s dates of birth, your social security number, your wife’s social security number and your children’s social security numbers. Remember to get the years for all dates.
Providing us with this basic information during your initial consultation will ensure that we can provide you with information that is specific to your situation. The dates of birth and social security numbers will help us in the event you do want to move forward with representation and we need to file documents on your behalf.
Come prepared! Bring any court documents that have been filed with court and include notice of any upcoming hearings.
It can also be helpful to bring a list of specific questions you may have. Your attorney will be able to provide more focused advice on these matters, and you will feel more satisfied knowing your questions have been answered.
Give yourself a head start process by preparing for your initial consultation. Prepare a list of questions so you don’t forget to ask the things that really matter to you. Some of these questions might include the divorce process, fees, deadlines and expectations.
During the discussion, you may have to address several upsetting issues and the lawyer may ask you some disturbing or uncomfortable questions. You do not have to worry about shocking the lawyer — an experienced family law attorney has probably already heard a similar story.
It is important for you to be forthcoming and honest. Remember, your communication with your attorney is privileged and protected by the attorney-client relationship.
The most important thing to do is to come to the consultation with as much information and documentation as possible.
If the attorney you meet with knows more about your case and the facts, they can identify the issues earlier and will also forward that information to the attorney who will be assigned to your case.
Bringing any court documents, whether from a new case or a previous judgment, as well as financial documents such as a pay stubs and tax returns is very helpful to speed up the initial work on your case.
If you want to make the most out of your initial consultation with an attorney, you should ensure that you are prepared as possible. This doesn’t require that you bring anything necessarily (though sometimes that can be helpful), but it does mean that you should have an understanding of your current financial situation and status of any existing court orders.
Your attorney will need a basic understanding of the financial outline in order to discuss possible pitfalls or expectations with you. This means current balances (exact numbers are not necessary) on all accounts, including bank, retirement interest and debts, as well as information on any unique personal property that you may own.
Also, make sure to be on time. There is a lot of information that you will discuss with the attorney, and every minute counts. The vast majority of the time, the attorney has his or her day planned out in time blocks, so if you are late and the attorney has a meeting following yours, then your initial meeting will be short in order to maintain the schedule.