When hiring a divorce lawyer, one of the first steps you’ll take is to schedule a consultation. A consultation gives you an opportunity to meet with a lawyer, to determine whether he or she can give you the help you need.
If you’ve never met with a lawyer, you may not know what to expect during the consultation, and you may feel intimidated by the meeting.
The main purpose of the consultation is to discuss your case. Essentially, you are having a conversation with the lawyer about your pending divorce, and you should be the one doing most of the talking.
The attorney should be listening intently and taking notes. He or she will also ask questions just to make sure that all of the information about the case is correct. Additionally, the attorney will ask whether you and your spouse have engaged in settlement discussions already, and whether you and your spouse may be considering reconciliation.
Be Prepared to Provide Personal Information
Along with the details of your case, the divorce attorney will also gather some basic personal information, including your: address, phone number and email address. The attorney will also want to gather background information, which may include:
- The date of the marriage
- Employment information of both spouses
- Names and ages of the children
- Income information, including assets and debts
- Whether or not there was a prenuptial agreement in place
Assets can include retirement accounts, bank accounts, stocks, vehicles, bonds, etc. Debts include credit card debt, mortgages, student loans, etc.
Before your meeting, take the time to gather this information. Know the approximate balances of accounts and debts as well as income information when you walk into the consultation.
The attorney may also ask about any premarital assets and whether either party had received some sort of inheritance during the marriage. You will also be asked about previous marriages (if any) and whether they ended in divorce or death.
It’s important to note that the communication between you and the attorney is protected under attorney-client privilege. There’s no need to worry that your spouse will find out about your conversation – or anyone else for that matter.
The Attorney Will Discuss Potential Issues with the Case and Your Options
After gathering information about your case, the attorney will discuss any potential issues that you may face during the divorce, such as custody and parenting time. Financial aspects will also be discussed, including child support, alimony, equitable distribution, college tuition, real estate, debts and other assets.
Additionally, your attorney will discuss your options for proceeding with the case. Along with divorce litigation, divorcing clients may also choose mediation, collaborative divorce or arbitration.
The Attorney Will Ask about Marital Misconduct
The attorney will also inquire about any marital misconduct or domestic violence that may have occurred.
If domestic violence has occurred, the attorney can help create a plan that protects you during and after the divorce. If marital misconduct has occurred, the attorney can create a strategic plan for addressing these issues and protect you from adverse consequences.
If you live in a “no-fault” state, adultery and abuse may be irrelevant in granting the divorce, but these issues can affect how income and assets are distributed.
The Attorney Will Discuss Financial Arrangements
Towards the end of the meeting, the attorney will discuss the fees charged for his or her services. The attorney should divulge his or her hourly rate as well as the amount of the initial retainer and how often you will be billed for services.
Assessing the Attorney and Asking Questions
The initial consultation is a great opportunity to get a “feel” for the attorney and determine whether he or she is a good fit for you. Asking questions can help you gauge the attorney’s competence and whether you will get along well.
Competence and experience are important, but you also want to make sure that you work with an attorney you like and can trust.
Here are some questions to ask during your initial consultation:
- Who will be my point of contact throughout the divorce process?
- Will you be the one to work on my case? If not, who will be and what are his or her qualifications?
- How often will you update me on the progress of my case?
- What can I expect if my case does go to court?
- How long have you been practicing nj divorce law?
- Do you have experience with mediation?
- How long do you expect my divorce to take?
The Micklin Law Group, LLC is a New Jersey law firm focusing on men’s rights during a divorce. Attorney Brad Micklin was recently named to The National Advocates list of Top 100 attorneys from each state. Brad has experience working with securing alimony for men. You can read more on this topic by visiting our Alimony Blog. To set up a divorce consultation, call 973-562-0100.