What Can I Expect at My First Consultation?
In any potential divorce or legal separation, there are two main areas of concern:
1) the custody and physical placement of the children, and
2) the financial ramifications of a possible breakup of the marriage.
Of course, each person is different, and you will have individual concerns as well, which will be addressed during the consultation.
During the first meeting, a client who wishes to do so can have the papers drawn up to start an action and filed within a day, if he or she is ready to do so. On the other hand, an individual may not be ready to proceed, but a meeting with an attorney will provide knowledge about the process, and what one’s rights and responsibilities are in the event a break up of the marriage takes place.
If a person is not ready to file the action, any information we obtain during the meeting will be kept on file by our office and will remain confidential (as of course is all information provided to your attorney during the consultation).
Things We’ll Need from You
In order for a client to get the most useful information at the first consultation with a divorce attorney, it is helpful to bring a number of items, which are listed below, to that first meeting. Do not be concerned if you do not have some of the listed information as these documents will be accumulated during the divorce process, but it helps to have some basic information regarding the income, assets, and liabilities of which you are aware.
The following items will help the attorney you meet with provide you with specific information for your matter:
1) Copy of last two years’ income tax returns.
2) Copies of your and your spouse’s current paycheck stubs.
3) Copies of most recent statements of all debts and obligations.
With regard to any real estate owned:
a) copies of deeds, with legal description
b) copies of most recent real estate tax bills
c) copies of most recent mortgage balance statements.
1) Copies of titles, or lease agreements, for automobiles.
2) Copies of most recent statements of all checking/savings, money market accounts, certificates of deposit.
3) Copies of most recent statements of all stocks, bonds, and mutual funds.
4) Copies of face sheets of life insurance policies, indicating face amount, cash value, beneficiary, and owner.
5) Copies of most recent statements of all retirement plans, employee stock option plans, and any other form of deferred compensation.
7) Information regarding any business or partnership interests in which you have an interest.
8) Listing of any property that has been acquired by gift/inheritance, or was owned prior to marriage.
9) Listing and valuation of any antiques, jewelry, furs, art work, or any other valuables not covered above.
Although the above list may seem daunting, in some cases, your accountant will have some of this information. And if you have recently refinanced a mortgage, your bank will usually have a net worth statement that was provided to them, which is a good starting point.
At your first meeting, the attorney will advise you regarding your specific situation, what the entire process entails, what laws and statutes apply, and will try to determine what you would wish to accomplish if the divorce or legal separation takes place. When you contact our office to set up the appointment, one of the assistants will ask you several administrative questions, and you may ask the assistant your particular questions. They will advise you about any non-legal items, and suggest that you write down any other questions you will want to ask the attorney at the meeting.
If at any time you have questions about the first meeting, please contact us and one of the assistants in our office will be happy to answer your questions.