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Preparing for your first meeting with a family law attorney

sit down meeting with lawyer

A lot of people never deal with divorce in their own lives and the ones who do have to deal with it usually only have to deal with it once, so it’s not surprising if you don’t know what to expect before you have your first consultation with a family law attorney. It’s not unusual to be worried about what lies ahead or to have some vague ideas of what the process will be based upon things you may have seen on television shows. The reality is that your divorce will both be unique to your situation and will have elements in common with other cases. Rarely, though, will your situation resemble anything you have seen on television.

Before you go into that first meeting, it’s helpful for you to know that there are a few main categories of topics that will be covered in a “standard” case. Most “standard” cases involve some combination of absolute divorce, child custody, child support, alimony, and equitable distribution. In other words, termination of the marital relationship, a custodial schedule with the children, division of assets, and division of income. Keeping in mind these basic categories, you can get more out of your initial meeting with your attorney if you spend a little time ahead of that first meeting thinking about your family’s current situation and thinking about the situation you would like to be in at the end of the case.

If your case involves minor children, you will need to provide some information about the children’s current schedules and caregivers and about any special needs a child may have. It’s also helpful to know each parent’s work schedule and have some idea of each parent’s familial or other support group. With that information in hand, the attorney can give you some idea of what to expect during your custody case and what a likely outcome may be.

When dealing with property division, you will eventually need to be able to list all of the assets and debts that are owned by you and by your spouse. If there are things that you do not know, like the holder or the mortgage or how much money is in a 401(k), it’s a good idea to start to gather that information as soon as possible. You do not need to have all of this information ahead of your first meeting, but the more you know at the beginning, the easier the process will move forward.

For financial issues, it’s imperative to know both parties’ incomes and to know what the current household expenses are. If you are still living together but are contemplating separation, it is also helpful to have begun to determine what your individual expenses will be once separated. For child support, you will also need to know details such as the cost of work-related childcare and the cost of health insurance.

No one expects you to walk into that first meeting with all of this information, so do not fret if you don’t have it. The point is that you can make the most of that initial consultation if you do begin with some information. Whether you have all of this information or not, come into the consultation with a willingness to tell the attorney the truth about what is going on and about what your expectations are. Be willing to listen to the attorney’s explanation of the law and procedures and about what your options are for how to move forward. Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask questions of your attorney – that’s what we are here for. The attorneys here at Collins Family & Elder Law Group are ready to assist you with your family law case, so give us a call and we can help you get through this difficult time.

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sit down meeting with lawyer