Preparing for Your First Meeting with Your Family Lawyer / by Cassandra Hearn

The decision to begin a divorce, child custody, or modification action can be stressful. Many people also feel stress when meeting with their family law attorney for the first time. Even though this time is one of change and uncertainty, meeting with your lawyer should not be a source of worry or stress. Remember that your lawyer is on your side and wants to help you achieve your goals. To make your first meeting with your lawyer go smoothly and be as productive as possible, there are some documents you can bring and prepare. Which documents you need will often depend on the type of case. 

 If you have been served with papers - divorce, child custody, child support, etc. - bring a copy of what you were served. This will let your lawyer see exactly what the other side is asking the court to do. Your lawyer can also see if any court dates have been set for your case. Once your lawyer understands what the other side is asking for, it will be much easier for your lawyer to talk with you about your goals in the framework of the ongoing action and to develop a strategy. 

If you are wanting to modify a prior order, bring the order with you. Whether it is a divorce decree, child custody order, or child support order, your lawyer needs to know what requirements are already in place before accurately advising you as to how to proceed or what will happen next. 

If you are seeking to start a divorce, there are several types of information that will be helpful during your first meeting. A list of your assets and debts will give your attorney an idea of the marital property there is to divide. You do not need to bring all of your bank and credit card statements - simply making a note of the approximate balances is sufficient. If you do not have access to some or all of the accounts, that is not a problem. During your case, your attorney will be able to get copies of all of this information from your spouse. If you have children or have questions about child support, it is important to know how much your partner makes. Again, if you do not know this amount, your lawyer will be able to figure this out during the case. 

Finally, it can be very helpful to write down a short list of your goals and questions. Your lawyer likely will have lots of information for your during the first meeting. Having a written list of information you specifically want to gather or discuss can help you keep your thoughts in order. 

 Clearly the amount and type of information to bring to your first meeting can vary. If you have questions about what you need to bring, just call the office before your appointment. Your lawyer and your lawyer's staff are there to help you and answer your questions.

We understand that this process is stressful and can be confusing at first. Call us today at 619-800-0384 and let us talk with you about your first meeting. We can provide you with a road map of the start of your family law case.