Investigating the divorce process often involves an initial consultation with a divorce attorney. Anxieties can run high during that the first meeting, but preparing needed information and documentation ahead of time can help you feel more secure as you begin the divorce process.
The more information you provide for your divorce attorney on the front-end, the more efficient and informed the divorce process will be.
A Written Summary Can Save Time
Prior to meeting with your divorce attorney, collect useful information that pertains to the divorce to give to your lawyer for quick reference. You should consider recording information about you and your spouse to give to your lawyer including:
Your full legal names
- Phone numbers
- Dates of birth
- Social security numbers
- Email addresses
- Annual incomes
- Important dates in the marriage including your wedding date, date separated, etc.
You should also clarify whether or not you and your spouse have children together or have children from a previous marriage as well as accompanying information about the children, including their dates of birth, names, and current living arrangements.
Gather Documentation To Give Your Attorney The Full Picture
No two divorces are exactly alike, and the relevant supporting documentation that you provide for your attorney will depend on your individual circumstances. In general, however, there are a few pieces of documentation that you should consider bringing to that first meeting with your attorney:
- Recent pay stubs for you and your spouse
- Year-end W2 statements
- Latest tax returns
- Values of marital assets that will be divided during the divorce, including (but not limited to) real estate, retirement accounts, IRAs, vehicles, and other personal property
- Documentation of debts and liabilities including mortgages, credit cards, and other loans
- Prenuptial agreement if one was filed
- Other court orders or agreements related to you and your spouse
If child support and custody is an aspect of your divorce, you should also bring documentation of the cost of each child’s extracurricular activities, medical expenses, tuition and daycare expenses, and health insurance premiums.
Prepare Questions To Ask Your Divorce Attorney
Your attorney will thoroughly outline the divorce process for you, but you will want to take full advantage of the time you have with them to get your questions answered. Prepare a list of questions for your divorce attorney ahead of time to ensure that you have all the information you need to feel confident about the process by the end of the meeting. Here are a few questions that you may choose to ask during your first meeting with your divorce attorney:
- Can you walk me through the divorce process/timeline?
- How will negotiation work?
- To what extent should I discuss the divorce with my spouse?
- How much will my divorce cost?
- How does child custody work?
- What temporary orders for child/spousal support should I seek?
- How often will we communicate about my case?
- How do judges typically rule on issues relevant to my divorce?
Regardless of how prepared you are for that first meeting, it can still be difficult to feel 100% secure as you start the divorce process. This will come with time and action. In the meantime, your divorce attorney will ensure that you have all the information necessary to feel confident about the legal aspects of your divorce.