Consulting with a family law attorney involves providing a great deal of personal information to a professional. It can seem to be an intimidating and scary process, which makes the reason for your consultation (like a possible separation or divorce) all the more difficult. You may think that certain issues are important – and they are – but they may not be the most important consideration from a legal stand point. The following five tips will help you prepare for your consultation and lead to a productive, hopefully helpful, meeting:
- Write Down Complicated Information
Your attorney is meeting you for the first time, so many questions will come up. Come to the meeting prepared with notes about complicated issues. In particular, write down a timeline of your relationship so that critical questions about major events (such as dates of separation, criminal activity, and events that led to the dissolution of the marriage), statutes of limitations, asset division and other matters can be assessed. Also, if you have a complex family structure (like multiple marriages, children, etc.), you will help your lawyer by writing down the family relationships. By preparing in advance, your attorney will be able to quickly review what you have written and ask intelligent follow up questions.
- Bring Any Relevant Documents
Have you been married more than once? Be sure to bring the divorce documents from prior marriages. Did you and your spouse sign any sort of agreement pertaining to your relationship (like a pre-nuptial or a post-nuptial)? Bring this agreement with you. If you are consulting an attorney after you have already started a divorce in the court, bring the court documents that already exist. Your attorney will be giving you advice based on the information that you provide. If you have questions regarding support, bring documents that reflect the incomes of the parties (like paystubs or recent tax returns). These significant documents will determine the advice your attorney gives you and help provide more specific advice tailored to your situation.
- Consider Attorney-Client Privilege
When consulting with an attorney, you want to be able to keep the conversation confidential. At the same time, some people may want to bring a friend or relative as support to the meeting. The presence of a third party is enough to destroy the attorney-client privilege. If that happens, then anything you and your attorney discuss might be shared with the other side. Your attorney will advise you of this fact at the meeting. If you still prefer to have the support person present, then you should be prepared to be careful about what you share, or to have your support person wait for you outside of a closed-door meeting.
- Lead With Deadlines
Often, people realize that a deadline is looming when they decide to consult with an attorney. Deadlines come up when there is a divorce proceeding already started or if there is some existing divorce document that provides for a deadline. Also, there may be another type of court proceeding like a possible bankruptcy, or some other claim that will impact marital assets. If there is a deadline coming up, be sure to tell your attorney about it from the start of the conversation so that the consultation can prioritize this issue.
- Take Advantage of Intake Process
At Reese Law, we have a form to complete online to schedule a consultation. This form gives us some basic information, and it allows for a conflict check. In addition, prior to the consultation, we ask that you complete a more detailed form, available online. It is a short process to complete these forms, but we gave careful consideration to the information requested to help provide you the best services possible. By completing the forms, you will cut down on the time it will take for your attorney to get up to speed on the situation, which gets you closer to getting the right advice for your needs.
DISCLAIMER. The material contained on this Website is not offered, nor should it be construed, as legal advice. The material on our Website has been prepared and published for informational purposes only. You should not act or rely upon information contained in these materials without specifically seeking professional legal advice.