Life happens! While everyone wants a “happily ever after” ending that never ends, relationships go sour. Words are spoken that should not have been said. As the situation moves from bad to worse, the epic wedding vows that ended with a beaming smile as you shouted, “I do” quickly degenerate into “we are done.”
Going through a divorce can be a traumatic affair. In the place of the minister who joined you in holy matrimony is a divorce lawyer who specializes in helping you separate reasonably and fairly. That is the lot we call life.
If you are going through a divorce, you need to know a number of things in order to make the most of your first meeting with a divorce lawyer. In a word, you have to prepare for the meeting, and the following tips should help you along this course.
1. Know Their Fee
A typical lawyer will bill you by the hour, although in some cases he or she might charge you a flat fee. Always establish beforehand the billing system of your divorce lawyer and figure out how you can get the best value for your time and money. For example, consider speaking to an assistant, who normally charges lower fees and can ably answer basic inquiries such as clerical and administrative questions. If your lawyer will be charging you by the hour, establish what is billable and what is not.
2. Prepare Your Profile
Before you meet a divorce lawyer, have your profile ready. It should include the date of your wedding or cohabitation, the date of separation, names of children (if any) and their dates of birth, your income and that of your spouse. If you can, carry along a couple of recent paystubs and a recent assessment notice.
3. Bring Financial Details
Unless you are the recipient of child support, you will need to present a full financial statement at some point, especially for the purposes of a separation agreement. It is always helpful if you can have on hand a general idea of both your financial situation and that of your spouse. This should include vehicles, real estate, pensions, bank accounts and any other asset of significant value. The statement should also include your debts; including those incurred together with your spouse. The statement should also cover the date of marriage to the date of separation.
4. Be Thoroughly Prepared
Before making the appointment with a divorce lawyer, prepare your questions and write them down on paper. Since you will be billed by the hour, you might as well make the most of that time. The last thing you want is to end up chatting with the lawyer only to realize your time has elapsed before you could ask relevant questions. Always be prepared and have a goal for every session you have with a divorce lawyer. Besides your own questions, prepare answers for questions that your divorce lawyer is likely to ask you.
5. Familiarize Yourself With the Information
It can be frustrating being asked a question that you cannot respond to because you forgot the answer. For instance, the lawyer could ask your children’s dates of birth, their education, health status, and other matters that could potentially affect the safety of a child. You might want to bring along copies of birth certificates of your children and other relevant details.
Your first meeting with a divorce lawyer could be a daunting experience. Perhaps you have never been in this situation before and you are still reeling from a stormy separation. It is important that you keep your cool and think more with your head than with your heart, especially if children are involved. The less acrimonious a divorce is, the easy it will be for the kids to move on. Always make sure you are thoroughly prepared for that first meet with a divorce lawyer.