What To Bring To Your Divorce Consultation
Dealing with divorce can be a difficult experience, so being knowledgeable about the process and prepared every step of the way can help you feel in control of the outcome. Understanding what to expect at your divorce consultation and what you should bring to the meeting will help things move smoothly.
What To Expect
You may feel nervous about meeting with your lawyer for the first time, but he or she will be the key link in resolving any issues and helping you achieve the best outcome in your divorce.
You case may have already been filed with the courts. Or not. You and your spouse may have agreed to use a collaborative divorce process. Or you might expect a difficult litigation period. Perhaps you are facing an emergency situation, such as disputes over finances and property, custody issues, or domestic abuse. Your particular circumstances will affect the path that your initial consultation takes.
In most situations, your lawyer will discuss the legal options for your situation and what happens with each option. You can expect your attorney to ask a lot of questions. He needs to have a complete understanding of your circumstances, including how your spouse may respond to the case and if you have any children. He will also ask about your finances and attempt to discern the psychological aspects of your case.
Your lawyer may also recommend adding other professionals to your divorce team, such as psychotherapists, financial planners, or divorce coaches. While not all cases require additional support from outside sources, in some cases, it’s helpful to get the opinion and assistance of professionals in outside fields.
You can also expect your lawyer to ask about potential issues related to your divorce, including custody, child support, alimony, and the division of property and debts. It’s important that you come prepared to discuss all of these aspects of your divorce in as much detail as possible.
What To Bring
In order to make the most of your divorce consultation, you should arrive at your first meeting as prepared as possible. If you show up empty-handed, your lawyer may have little input regarding the steps you should take and may be unable to answer your questions.
When meeting your divorce lawyer for the first time, bring at least these five things:
One: Questions You Have
You’ll want to write down any questions that you have for your lawyer, whether it’s about her experience, the process, or your specific case. Don’t assume that you’ll remember everything you want to ask. Make a list and bring it with you.
Questions may include:
- What is the anticipated timeline of my divorce?
- Do you have experience with divorce litigation procedures?
- What can I expect in regards to child custody and visitation?
- Can you estimate the child support for this case?
- How much will my divorce cost?
- What can I expect the outcome of my case to be?
While your lawyer will not be able to make any guarantees, if given enough background information and supporting documents, she should be able to estimate answers that give you a good idea of what to expect.
Two: Pay Stubs
To help your attorney determine potential alimony and child support amounts, you should bring pay stubs for yourself and your spouse. Try to bring at least three months’ worth of pay stubs, preferably the most recent records.
While you don’t have to bring pay stubs to your first meeting with your lawyer, it is something that he will ask for at some point. It’s best to provide as much documentation as possible to speed up the process.
Three: Tax Returns
Providing your divorce attorney with recent tax returns will give him a more in-depth view of you and your spouse’s financial situation. You should certainly bring copies of tax returns if you and your spouse do not file jointly.
Four: Legal Documents
You will want to bring legal documents related to your marriage and your children, including:
- Children’s birth certificates
- Social Security cards and passports for yourself and your children
- Any prenuptial agreements
- Any separation agreements
- Other legal documents involving your children or spouse
- If domestic abuse is involved, bring police reports or related documents
Your lawyer will need this information to help layout your divorce timeline and determine what you should expect in regards to your courtroom proceedings.
Five: Other Relevant Information
If you have incriminating evidence that pertains to your spouse’s behavior, bring it. This may include videos, photos, social media posts, direct messages, emails, or other forms of evidence. If you suspect your spouse of cheating, keep a log of how often he or she claims to be working late or credit card statements with hotel charges. If you suspect your spouse is misusing family funds, bring bank statements that show large withdrawals that are unaccounted for. If your spouse has been abusive, screenshot threatening messages.
In many states, divorce cases are “no fault,” meaning that some factors, like adultery, do not affect the outcome of the divorce. However, some states still require that you provide a reason for the divorce, such as gross neglect, willful absence, or habitual drunkenness.
When you are meeting with the best divorce attorney in St. Louis area for the first time, it is imperative that you are prepared. If you don’t bring certain legal documents, you are preventing your attorney from fully advising you regarding your options. You may also be slowing down the procedure and even adding costs to your final invoice if your lawyer must revisit particulars of your case that could have been handled at the first meeting.
Remember that your attorney has experience dealing with all aspects of divorce and can help you make the best decisions regarding your case, but only if you provide him with the right information upfront.