For starters? A good start to your next chapter.
Most people come to me prepared for me to ask them almost anything, and some are relieved to get their story out and get into all the details. Others see my role as more of a financial advisor and bring a box of account statements to our first meeting. There is a lot of confusion about what divorce attorneys do, because there is a lot of confusion about what is relevant in a divorce case. Divorce litigation is primarily concerned with dividing your financial and legal responsibilities. The court is concerned with your personal life to the extent that it is relevant to either of these, the latter usually arising in terms of custody of children – but almost never simply to prove that one person is responsible for the breakdown of the marriage.
In an initial consultation, I ask pointed questions to “triage” the case and give the most complete evaluation of what you can expect to be issues in your case, and identify areas where the outcome may be predictable. Some basic facts can allow me to provide general evaluation:
What is the length of the marriage?
What is the income of each spouse?
Will child custody be contested?
Who is the primary caretaker of the children?
At the same time, it is also important for me to know everything the other side is telling their attorney. If your spouse is likely to bring up “skeletons in the closet”, I want to be prepared with a response ahead of the hearing instead of while we’re standing in front of the judge (and to give you an accurate evaluation of your case).
When you call me for your initial consultation, I recognize that it may be a very difficult call to make, one that you have been thinking about for some time. Or, you may be blindsided with a situation that throws your previous plans for the future into turmoil, and you are desperate for information. We will be able to determine a plan of action for the immediate future and any pleadings that should be filed to preserve your rights or facilitate the court’s intervention in any urgent issues.