Divorce can be one of the most emotionally disturbing and difficult situations that an individual is ever likely to encounter, and meeting a divorce lawyer for the first time can be a daunting prospect. Ensuring you choose the right legal representation, hoping that you "click" in terms of personality, and being able to put your trust, and essentially your future, in their hands is of the utmost importance.
It is likely that prior to your meeting, a myriad of worries, concerns, and negative stereotypes will be running through your mind. Are they really on my side? Is this going to bankrupt me? Will they judge me and the breakup of my relationship? The truth is that divorce lawyers have seen it all, heard it all, and could most probably write a book on the subject (if they weren’t bound by client confidentiality that is), and they are experienced in matters such as yours.
While it is an extremely emotional situation, it is important to keep a clear head, be sure of what you want to achieve, and be able to communicate your interests to your legal representative honestly, and succinctly.
These four points are often the most contested in divorce cases, so having a clear idea of what you want, need, and expect right from the get-go can give you and your lawyer a helpful head start in preparing the case.
It is also worth noting that good lawyers don’t come cheap; therefore, ensuring you know what you want before you meet can significantly help you make the best of your time with them. Even if the meeting is nothing more than a fact-finding mission, it is important to be honest and clear about all aspects of your situation to ensure the lawyer has the full picture.
As well as having a clear idea of the outcomes you desire, it would also be advantageous to bring any relevant or supporting documentation with you. Originals or copies of documents such as bank statements, a proof of address, property deeds, insurance policies, loan agreements, employment contracts, photographic identification, your social security number, the marriage certificate, and as much information on your spouse as you can manage should be brought to your first meeting. Having all of this information ready, along with the correct paperwork to back up each one, can cut the time of processing to as much as one-third, meaning, ultimately, it will cost you less as well as help to expedite the process.
Another important preparation to make before you meet your lawyer is to create a written narrative of your marriage. You can start with the beginning of the relationship and make descriptive yet factual notes on every milestone, incident, problem, significant dispute or argument, any cases of infidelity, legal wrongdoing, violence, drug use, or other strengths and weaknesses.
Be sure to list dates, times, any witnesses, and any supporting documentation that you can get your hands on. It is important to be honest and completely transparent with this narrative and to prepare your lawyer for any possible surprises that could be thrown at you acrimoniously by your spouse later in the proceedings.
Divorce, by its very nature, is a very unpredictable and emotionally charged situation, and you need to make sure that before you meet your divorce lawyer for the first time, you have put in time, thought, consideration, and preparation to ensure that you are as prepared as you will ever be for what lies ahead.