What to Bring to Your First Meeting with a Divorce Lawyer
No matter how many episodes of Law & Order you’ve watched, finding an attorney in real life is daunting under the best of circumstances. For many people, finding a divorce attorney is the result of a recommendation or long hours of internet research. No matter how you arrive at your shortlist of firms to interview, coming to your first consultation with a few documents and prepared questions can help you make the most of your appointment.
If it’s safe for you to access the information without causing further disruption in your marriage, bring in statements that give the attorney an overview of your financial life: paystubs, tax returns, how much debt you and your spouse carry, etc. If you anticipate large expenses, like private school tuition or moving to a new home, your consultation would also be a good time to discuss those concerns.
Items Related to Conduct
If conduct plays a role in your divorce or custody case, bringing in sample pages of text messages and emails – or even a journal that you may be keeping – can give a clear, concise picture as to the extent of the issues, and it allows the attorney to better formulate a case-specific plan.
Questions for Your Prospective Lawyer
Here are common questions that you should feel comfortable addressing in a consultation:
- How will Boyd Collar Nolen & Tuggle manage the day-to-day work of my case?
- How soon can I realistically expect a response from you? From your paralegal?
- Are you more accessible by phone or email?
- What is the best-case scenario for my case?
- What is the worst-case scenario for my case?
- What are your thoughts on mediation versus litigation?
- Be upfront with yourself about how much money you can spend on your case. You may be able to meet the initial retainer, but once that is exhausted, fees can quickly accumulate, adding debt to an already stressful undertaking.
- Be mindful that “winning” and “losing” mean different things in family law. Scorched-earth tactics may win the moment, but they can be detrimental to your peace of mind and the emotional well-being of your children.
- Be honest about whether you “click” with the attorney you’re interviewing. Be upfront about the types of personalities with which you work best, because there will be an attorney that meets that need.
- Remember, hiring a lawyer is an investment in your future, and the right firm will want to help you get a strong return on your investment.