What should you bring to your divorce consultation?
Before you hire a divorce attorney, you'll likely have a consultation during which the attorney can size up your case and answer your questions. But you shouldn't arrive to your divorce consultation empty-handed, otherwise your potential attorney may have little to say about your case.
Come prepared to your divorce consultation with at least these five things:
1. A List of Questions.
You'll want to get some good information about the attorney you may hire to handle your divorce, so don't be afraid to have a list of questions you'd like to ask.
Whether it's a hard copy or digitally available on your smart phone, you'll probably want to ask about your attorney's experience, the potential cost of your divorce matter, and how long the whole thing may take.
2. Pay Stubs.
Your attorney will eventually ask you for things like pay stubs to determine how much money you and your spouse are bringing in. Most people seeking a divorce aren't looking to waste time, so cut to the chase: Try to bring at least three months' worth of paystubs from you and your spouse to the divorce consultation. These can go a long way in making an initial estimate on alimony.
3. Tax Returns.
Perhaps even more useful than pay stubs, tax returns can give a more comprehensive look at you and your spouse's financial situations. This is especially true if you didn't always file a joint tax return each year.
4. Prenups, Birth Certificates, and Other Legal Documents.
You may have amassed a ton of legal paperwork that relates to your marriage, but you should probably bring:
- Any prenuptial agreements,
- Children's birth certificates,
- Documents from any prior legal proceedings involving your spouse or children,
- Any separation agreements, and
- You and your children's identifying information (Social Security cards and/or passports).
These documents will help your attorney get a better feel for your story during your divorce consultation, and can help him or her make a better estimate on your divorce timeline.
5. Any 'Incriminating' Evidence.
If there are incriminating videos, photos, social media postings, or notes that relate to the divorce (e.g., cheating, abuse, etc.), you'll want to bring that evidence to the consultation as well. Keep in mind, however, that most divorce cases today are "no fault" divorces; that means things like adultery may not necessarily affect the outcome of your case.
In addition to bringing these five things, you'll also want to bring an open mind to your divorce consultation. You may have some idea of what you want out of your divorce, but you need to be open to the expert advice of your prospective divorce attorney.
- Get in touch with a knowledgeable divorce attorney in your area today (FindLaw)
- Making The Most Of Your Consultation With A Divorce Lawyer (The Huffington Post)
- 5 Things a Divorce Lawyer Can Do (That You Probably Can't) (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
- Does Adultery Affect a Divorce Case? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)