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How to Prepare for Your Divorce Consult

Posted on May 13, 2024 by Christina Smith

So, you have decided to pursue a divorce and you’ve chosen an attorney who you want to meet with. What do you do next? Your first consultation with a divorce attorney usually involves an explanation of your legal options, an overview of the divorce process, and discussion of any specific concerns you may have. The attorney should also discuss their fee agreement and how you will be billed throughout the process. The consult is essentially a two-way interview. Do you want to hire this attorney to represent you and does the attorney want you as a client?

Most attorneys will have a form for you to fill out with basic information such as names, birthdays, ages, children, income, and summary of assets. It is worth your time to put together a list of your main questions, some basic history, and the top issues that you think will be a source of contention in your divorce.

Don’t hide the bad stuff.  Let the attorney know what issues your spouse will likely bring up. Will your spouse say that you have a substance abuse problem, mental health issues, or a gambling addiction? It is important that the attorney have this information to be able to assess whether they are the best fit for your case and to be prepared if they do take you on as a client. It’s important to hire an attorney who has experience with your particular issues and is confident in giving advice on those subjects.  Some attorneys prefer to take complicated asset cases or mainly deal with complex parenting issues, while some attorneys do it all. If you own a small business, you will want to hire an attorney with experience and knowledge in that area.

Your divorce attorney’s job is to help you reach agreements and/or litigate in the areas of parenting, child support, spousal support (alimony), and the division of assets and debts. Other common issues that may be involved in your divorce are substance abuse, domestic violence, child abuse, and mental health issues. Remember that a divorce attorney is not a therapist. A little venting is normal and expected but the attorney will be focused on actionable items that will help achieve your legal goals. It is important to be realistic about your attorney’s role.

Divorce is a very emotional process and will have a significant impact on your life. It is important that your attorney’s approach matches with your own gut instincts as to how you want your divorce handled. Does the attorney understand your particular concerns, are they giving relevant feedback regarding issues involving your children, and are they listening to you? Are you comfortable talking to the attorney about these personal issues?

It is also important that you hire an attorney who can counsel you against taking actions that they believe will keep you from achieving your goals. It may feel good in the moment to have an attorney who goes along with everything you say, doesn’t dig deeper, or tell you when they think you are wrong.  But ultimately that is not the attorney who is going to help you achieve the best outcome. You need an attorney who will be honest with you and gracefully help you navigate the tricky landscape of divorce.

If you have questions about preparing for your divorce consult, or other issues related to your divorce, the Family Law lawyers at Lasher are here to help.