If you plan to file for divorce, your first major step will be to meet with an experienced divorce lawyer. A skilled attorney will be able to discuss with you your options and let you know what to expect from the divorce process. When preparing for your first meeting, there are things you should gather to make sure you get the most out of the initial consultation. Also, having certain important documents will allow your attorney to get started with your case as soon as possible. At The Mandel Law Firm, we recommend following this checklist of items to bring with you:
A List of Questions
Going through a divorce is, for many, a stressful and overwhelming experience. You can reduce this stress by preparing a list of questions before your initial consultation with a divorce lawyer. Don’t hesitate to any questions that come to mind.
Many who go through a divorce are unfamiliar with the legal system. Take advantage of your attorney’s knowledge and experience. However, you need to understand that your attorney may not have answers to all your questions at this point. It can be challenging to predict with certainty how a divorce will unfold, including the time it takes to resolve and how much it will cost.
Examples of questions to ask:
- How long have you been handling divorce cases?
- Do you have experience with the types of issues involved in my case?
- What are your attorney’s fees?
- How and how often will we communicate regarding my case?
- How will you keep my file secure? Will I have access to it?
- How much should I expect to receive in spousal/child support?
- How long does the typical divorce process last?
- What do you think will be contested issues in my case?
- How will the negotiation process play out?
Important Documents Related to Your Divorce
If there are legal documents relevant to your case that would assist the divorce lawyer in understanding the history of your case, make sure you bring those with you. Examples of relevant legal documents include:
- Prenuptial agreements
- Your social security card and passport
- Your children’s social security card and passport
- Your children’s birth certificates
- If applicable, documents from prior legal proceedings involving your spouse or children
- Separation agreements
Bringing these documents will help your lawyer provide legal advice specific to your unique case.
Providing important financial documents will allow your lawyer to get an overview of you and your spouse’s assets and liabilities. These are central to a discussion over property division. Examples of financial documents you may want to bring:
- Copy of bank statements that show the current balances in checking and savings accounts
- Credit card statements for the past 12 months
- Business operating agreements
- Stock certificates and bonds
- 401-K and other retirement account statements
- Tax returns and evidence of income of you and your spouse earned over the last three years
- Real estate warranty deeds
- Copies of security deeds, promissory notes, and settlement statements
- Notes for car loans
- Personal debts or notes signed to anyone
- Budget of your living expenses
Keep in mind that it doesn’t matter if an account or an asset is in your name or your spouse’s name. If you cannot find financial information, don’t fret, your attorney will be able to obtain the information you need for your case during the discovery process.
The first meeting is an opportunity for you and your divorce lawyer to start building a relationship based on trust. It’s important to be honest and forthcoming with everything related to your divorce. Your attorney is here to help you navigate the entire process. If you are seeking an experienced New York divorce lawyer, The Mandel Law Firm will be ready to assist you. Call now to schedule a confidential consultation.