What to Expect at a Divorce Consultation

Updated on 06/15/2022 / Under

Over the years, divorce rates in the United States have increased. A lot of people are getting divorced for a variety of reasons. Most people who decide to get a divorce and go their separate ways do not really know what the process entails until they get started. Deciding on the divorce process that suits you and choosing the right divorce attorney to represent you can make a whole lot of a difference.

It can feel overwhelming to schedule a divorce consultation, especially if your spouse knows nothing about it. Scheduling a consultation with a divorce attorney does not mean that you will soon be headed to court. An initial consultation is intended to arm you with your information so you can be able to calculate the next step that you should take.

An initial consultation is for the purpose of gathering information and get legal advice about the circumstances of your situation. In the initial consultation, you are the one who will be doing most of the talking. Your potential divorce lawyer will be gathering information about the case from you and will ask you several questions so they can recommend solutions.

Since you are the one who will be doing most of the talking, you should prepare yourself adequately so you can make good use of the time that you will spend at the lawyer’s office. Prepare yourself with documents and questions.

What You Should Expect at a Divorce Consultation 

You already that you will be doing most of the talking since the case revolve around you. The divorce attorney will ask you for some information. Here are some of the details that the lawyer will ask you for during the initial consultations for the divorce meeting.

  • Email address
  • Home address
  • Cell phone number
  • Date of marriage
  • The information about your reemployment as well as that of your spouse
  • The children’s ages and names if you have kids
  • Liabilities and assets
a photo of a woman at a divorce consultation

To best prepare yourself to discuss your situation, you should know information about income and bank account balances. Your attorney will want to find out of you have a prenuptial agreement. Also, do you or your spouse have premarital assets, and has anyone of you received an inheritance while you both married? The attorney will use the information you give, so they provide you with guidance. Depending on the specifics of your case, your attorney will tell you if you need a witness or witnesses.

The potential divorce attorney should talk to you about alternative dispute resolutions. Other forms of alternative dispute resolutions aside from traditional litigation are the collaborative divorce process, also known as arbitration and mediation. Experienced divorce attorneys will give you information on how long traditional litigation will take if pursued and court procedures involving the process.

It is important to find out how much you will be charged and the whole financial arrangement you will have if you decide to hire an attorney. Ask about the hourly rates and the entire cost of the retainer.

What You Should Bring to Your Initial Consultation

One of the things that you should do to be well prepared for the initial consultation is to bring documentation with you. The documentation will help the attorney to have an easier time evaluating your case.

Even if you do not bring the information with you to the consultation, you will still have to produce the documents eventually for the process to move quickly. Here are some of the documents that you should bring.

Tax Returns 

Tax returns will help the lawyer to comprehensively analyze your financial situation. It is especially necessary if, as a couple, you didn’t jointly file returns.

Legal documents that are necessary for your marriage and that have been acquired during that period are necessary. These types of documents are:

  • Passports and social security cards belonging to both you and your kids
  • A prenuptial agreement/ Postnuptial agreements
  • Separation agreements
  • Your children’s birth certificates
  • If there have been legal proceedings involving your spouse or children and there are supporting documents, you should bring them as well.

Pay Stubs

For your divorce attorney to make a clear picture of your finances and make an approximate estimate on spousal support, you should bring pay stubs. At least bring with you pay stubs worth three months.

Any Evidence that Could Potentially Incriminate Your Spouse

Suppose you want to file for a fault-based divorce. In that case, any evidence such as pictures, videos, messages, social media posts, and other supporting documents that will help prove your case are important.

Questions That You Should Ask the Attorney

When you visit the attorney’s office, it is important for you to find out as much as you can about the attorney, the process, and other details of the divorce process that you need to know about. To find everything you need to know, you need to prepare a list of questions to ask the divorce lawyer.

What to Expect at a Divorce Consultation

Here are some of the common questions that you will probably need answers to during the initial meeting.

  • What is their fee structure? It is important to work with an experienced Chicago divorce lawyer that you can be able to afford. Knowing their fee structure will help you to know if they are within your budget.
  • What should I expect during the divorce procedure? An experienced lawyer that has handled a lot of divorce cases will be able to the questions. They will walk you through the process from the time to file for a divorce up to when everything is finalized after a trial.
  • How the decision about the custody of your children will be made. This will help you understand if you are in the best financial condition as a parent to retain legal custody of your children as a parent.
  • Ask about Spousal support. Will you owe or receive alimony?
  • The division of marital property. The supporting documents you will have will help the lawyer give you sufficient information about how your marital property will be divided.
  • Ask them about how they will communicate your case.
  • The experience that they have handling divorce cases.
  • Find out if they specialize in other legal fields other than family law and divorce. It will probably be in your best interest to hire a lawyer that specializes in divorce cases.
  • Are they comfortable working your case? If they are not, you can move on to the next lawyer.

It would be best if you had open communication with your attorney during and after initial divorce consultations. 

Are Meetings With Lawyers Confidential?

Most potential clients who go to an initial divorce consultation are not sure if they want a divorce. Potential clients want to understand what to expect if they choose to go ahead with the process. The law protects attorney-client communication. This means that the client’s right to privacy is well defined and should be preserved.

It would help if you did not have to worry about your husband/wife finding out about your initial consultation and what you have discussed with your family law attorneys after you walk out of the office. It starts by choosing the right law firm from the no-obligation initial consultation to when you decide to go to trial.