Scheduling an initial consultation with a divorce attorney may feel stressful and emotionally overwhelming. You might be wondering what types of questions you should ask, what documents you should bring, and what concerns you should raise. After all, divorce is a big decision, and it’s essential to choose an attorney with whom you feel comfortable and confident. Here’s some guidance to help ensure you get the most out of your first meeting with your lawyer.
Summarize Your Story in Writing
When you’re trying to summarize years or decades of marriage, it can be easy to forget some of the details of your story. In preparation for your consultation, write down a chronology of events with the information your lawyer will need. You should include details such as the date of your marriage, your children’s birth dates, and the dates of any other important occurrences. By having this information prepared and written down, you can save a lot of time at the meeting.
Gather Your Financial Documents
Divorce comes down to two main things: child custody and dividing the marital assets. As soon as you know divorce is imminent, you should begin gathering financial documents, including tax returns, mortgage documents, bank statements, pay stubs, documents related to business expenses, and other financial statements. Your attorney will want to know about the financial circumstances of your marriage when you meet — and you should have these documents readily available. In addition, very soon after the divorce proceedings are commenced, you will be required to file a Statement of Net Worth in which all relevant financial information must be disclosed.
Bring Legal Documents
There are several legal documents you should bring to your divorce consultation. If your spouse commenced the divorce action, bring a copy of the papers — it’s crucial to be aware that an answer must be filed in response to a summons and complaint within a certain amount of time. Other documents your attorney may need can include any prenuptial or postnuptial agreement entered into and a copy of your marriage certificate. If there were any related legal proceedings in connection with child support or a restraining order was put in place, your attorney will want to see any orders issued by the judge.
Prepare a List of Questions for Your Divorce Attorney
It can be difficult to remember all the questions you have when you get to your attorney’s office. It’s best to prepare a list of questions in advance so you can be certain all of your concerns are addressed at the meeting. You might consider asking what their experience is in matrimonial law, what their fee structure is, and what their approach is in handling cases like yours. You should also ask questions that are specific to your case — you might want to know how your property will be divided, who will be responsible for certain debts, and how much child support you might owe or receive.
Make a List of Your Separate and Marital Property
One of the most contentious issues in any divorce is property division. In New York, courts follow the doctrine of equitable distribution, which means the property is divided in a way the judge deems fair. However, it’s only marital property that gets divided in a divorce. It’s a good idea to make a list of all the property and assets acquired by you and/or your spouse during the marriage. Your attorney can best advise you regarding any strategies and options concerning property division in your specific case.
Contact an Experienced New York City Divorce Attorney
If you are considering divorce, it’s vital to have the guidance of a knowledgeable divorce attorney who can protect your rights and help you navigate the legal process. The Edelsteins, Faegenburg & Brown LLP has been providing reliable representation and aggressive advocacy for matrimonial matters for more than 70 years. Call (212) 425-1999 to schedule a consultation or contact us now.