By Jordan Levey
What should you bring to the first meeting with your divorce attorney?
- Copies of any Motions or Petitions that have already been filed. If you’ve already been served with divorce papers or any other Motions or Petitions, then make sure to bring copies of those documents for your attorney to review. It’s helpful to see what’s already been filed in your case, so we can determine the status of your case and develop a strategy for how to move forward.
- Copies of any Orders that have already been entered. It’s important for your attorney to see what has already taken place in your case, and determine any court-ordered obligations already in place.
- Information about any upcoming court dates. You should let your attorney know if there are any upcoming or future court dates scheduled in your case.
- If you’re already divorced, a copy of your Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage. When you get divorced, the Judge enters a Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage that outlines all the terms of your divorce. If you are seeking the help of an attorney to enforce or modify the terms of your divorce then make sure you bring a copy of your Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage so your attorney can see what obligations are currently in place.
- Any prenuptial agreement that you and your spouse executed.
- Relevant financial/child related information. One of the first steps in any divorce case is completing a financial disclosure statement, outlining all of your monthly income and expenses, as well as your assets and debts. To assist in this process and the attorney’s evaluation of your situation, you should some general information with you to your meeting. Learn more about what information you should consider bringing to your initial consultation.
What should you ask your attorney at the first meeting?
- Who are the members of your firm, and how will they play a role in my case? Law firms range in size, and every firm has their own system for how cases are handled. Find out if there will be only one attorney handling your case, or if multiple attorneys and other legal professionals will be working on your case as well. Law Offices of Scott Tzinberg is a boutique firm, with two attorneys and one full-time legal assistant. The three of us strive to work on all of our cases together, so that we’re all familiar with your case and can be available to answer any questions you may have throughout the process.
- What is your billing structure? Do you need to pay a retainer fee? Are you responsible for your own court filing fees and other costs? What is your attorney’s hourly billing rate? Is your attorney willing to work out a payment plan? It is important for your attorney to be clear about their fees and billing structure.
- What are the legal issues in my case? Every case is different. Your attorney should ask you for the relevant background information to help narrow down the issues in your case. Before you leave your first meeting, you should have a good idea of what issues you and your attorney will be focusing on in your case.
- What can I expect while my case is pending? It is often difficult to predict exactly how long it will take to finalize your case. There are many factors that play into the length of your case, like the issues involved, whether those issues are contested or uncontested, how the other party responds, etc. However, your attorney should be able to discuss what you can expect while your case is pending. Ask your attorney to give you a general timeline and discuss a strategy for how you will proceed in the case.