Planning your first meeting with a divorce attorney can be a little unsettling. This is a big step in your life, and it’s natural to feel nervous or anxious about starting the process. But, if you are prepared and planning to meet with an experienced, caring attorney, you don’t need to worry.
When you go into your first meeting with a divorce attorney with the right information and questions, you can get started off in the right direction. You can speed up the process and create a plan to lead to the best possible outcome for you and your family.
When Is it Time to Meet with a Divorce Attorney?
While you might be putting it off, it’s time to meet with a divorce attorney if:
- You’ve been thinking about divorce. Meetings with a divorce attorney are completely confidential. If you are thinking about filing for divorce but don’t want your spouse to know, you can meet with an attorney confidentiality to explore your options.
- You’ve been served with divorce papers. You only have twenty days to respond after being served with divorce papers. Time is of the essence, so plan a meeting with an attorney right away.
- You’ve decided you want to file for divorce. Once you are ready to file for divorce, start the process by meeting with an attorney to discuss your options.
If you are in any of these situations, look for a divorce attorney who offers free initial consultations (that often take place over the phone). If that goes well, schedule your first in-person meeting.
Prepare for Your First Meeting with a Divorce Attorney
Follow these steps to get ready for your first meeting with a divorce attorney so you feel confident and prepared and have the materials you need to move your case along quickly.
#1) If you’ve been served, bring the divorce papers.
If you’re starting the divorce process because your spouse has filed, bring the divorce papers that were served to you. When you call for your appointment, share the date that you were served so the attorney can plan to see you in the appropriate amount of time. Remember, you only have twenty days to file an answer from the day you were served.
#2) Gather identification for all involved family members.
Bring any and all personal identification information about people in your immediate family, including your current spouse and any children.
#3) Gather financial information.
Bring any documents with financial information such as:
- Bank statements
- Credit card statements
- Account information
- Tax returns
- Loan documents
#4) Create a list of assets.
In addition to financial funds, create a list of:
- Assets to distribute
- Credits to distribute
- Debits to distribute
- Other valuable personal property to distribute
#5) Gather any additional documentation.
In addition to financial and asset information, collect any other documents that are related to your marriage or children. For example, if you have children and you have taken a parenting course in anticipation of the divorce, bring the certificate. Or, if there is alleged physical abuse or taking of funds, bring documentation to support your claim.
#6) Create a timeline of events.
Your attorney is going to need to understand the story of your relationship. Help them by creating a timeline of events that tells the story. Include the date and location of your marriage, the date of separation, and any other dates of important information such as spousal misconduct or problems.
#7) Do initial research on the divorce process.
You will feel more confident if you do a bit of initial research before your meeting. At the minimum, read through our guide on “How to File for Divorce in Florida” to get an idea of how the divorce process works.
#8) Create a list of questions.
Use your time with the divorce attorney to share information as well as ask questions. Ask any questions you have about the process and your situation. Also, question the attorney about their experience, rates, and past cases. Use this time to get educated on the process and the attorney so you can decide if the lawyer is right for you.
#9) Be prepared to be honest and open.
The more you share with your divorce attorney, the better they will be able to help you. As you go into your first meeting with a divorce attorney, be prepared to be open and honest. Share any details that you think are relevant or add context to your situation, and know that your conversation is 100% confidential.
Schedule Your First Meeting with a Divorce Attorney
If you have been served with divorce papers or are thinking about starting the process on your own, don’t let the unknown hold you back. Follow these steps to get ready for your first meeting with a divorce attorney, and then take the first step.
See if TJ Grimaldi is the right divorce attorney to help you through the process. Our initial consultations are free. Schedule your consultation or call 813-226-1023 to see if TJ is the best attorney to help guide you through this phase of your life.