Preparing for Your First Appointment with A Divorce Lawyer

You decide to consult with a divorce lawyer and call for an appointment. What now? Here are steps you can take to make your initial consultation productive and informative.

A. If you forgot to ask what documents to bring with you to the appointment, call the law firm and ask the lawyer’s secretary or paralegal what documents regarding your and your spouse’s property and finances you should bring to the appointment. Here is a basic list:

  1. Three years of personal tax returns;
  2. If there is a family owned business, 3-5 years of the business tax returns;
  3. Two years of financial statements and/or loan applications which show your joint and separately titled assets and debts;
  4. Copies of the most recent investment or brokerage account statements;
  5. Copies of the most recent retirement account statements for you and your spouse, if available;
  6. Copies of the most recent bank account statements for any bank account for both parties;
  7. Copies of your most recent mortgage or line of credit statements.

Make copies of the documents, if possible, and organize them into categories in a simple file folder you can leave  with the lawyer if you decide to hire her or him. Don’t worry if you do not have all the documents the attorney requests that you bring with you to the appointment. If you hire the attorney to represent you she or he can get them when needed.

B. Prepare a factual, written statement of basic, but important information including the following:

  1. The full names of both spouses and children (whether born of the current or a prior marriage), dates of birth, social security numbers and residence addresses;
  2. Your complete contact information and that of your spouse;
  3. The date of marriage and date of separation, if separated;
  4. Dates of any prior marriages and divorces and name and addresses of a former spouse;
  5. Education and employment history of both spouses. Employment history should detail each employer, position held, compensation and reason you or your spouse left the job or are no longer employed at the company;
  6. Any criminal history, domestic violence or other court history of either spouse;
  7. Significant health issues of either spouse or of the children including diagnosis, date of diagnosis, treatment and necessary future care and health insurance provider;
  8. Any information regarding suspected infidelity of your spouse;
  9. Brief statement of reasons you believe marriage is failing.

C. Prepare a list of questions you want to ask the lawyer. This will help you keep on point during the consultation.

D. Decide whether you want to take a close friend or relative with you to meet with the lawyer and whether you want the friend or relative present during the actual consultation. Your communication with the lawyer is privileged – meaning that the lawyer cannot disclose your confidential statements to anyone else. However, generally, if a third-party is present when  you and the lawyer are speaking, the presence of the third-party may void the attorney-client privilege because the presence of the third-party indicates you don’t expect the communications to be confidential. If your case goes to court, the third-party, or you, could be required to divulge what you and the lawyer say to each other during the interview. If you want a third-party present, make sure you discuss this issue with the lawyer before the consultation to make sure your statements are clearly confidential communications.

E. Before you go to the appointment make sure you know what the consultation fee is and how much time you will be able to spend talking to the lawyer. Some lawyers may bill for their time on an hourly basis and charge their normal hourly rate. Other lawyers may charge a flat fee for a consultation. Be prepared to pay the consultation fee on the day of the appointment.

F. Take a deep breath…you are ready and the consultation will go well.


About ncdivorcelawyer

Divorce and Family Law Lawyer in Raleigh, North Carolina. Carole is Fellow in the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, listed in Best Lawyers in America and in Super Lawyers as one of the Top 50 Women Lawyers in North Carolina. Carole is a Board Certified Specialist in Family Law.
This entry was posted in Attorney Fees: How Much?, Confidentiality, Divorce Finances, Hiding Assets in Divorce, Hiding Money in divorce, Hiring A Lawyer: What You Need to Know, Pre-Divorce Planning, Taxes and Divorce and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Preparing for Your First Appointment with A Divorce Lawyer

  1. Pingback: The financial documents you’ll need – posted by JP and Tracy « Recently Separated…What is next?

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