If you’ve decided to divorce, you probably didn’t arrive at that decision easily. For most couples, it is a difficult decision to make – but the truth is that making that decision is the first decision of only many that will follow. How you make the other decisions that are part of your divorce process will have a significant impact on whether or not the process goes smoothly and successfully, or whether it is full of stress and anxiety. One of the most important decisions you can make in that regard is choosing an attorney to help you through the process. The value of finding a knowledgeable and experienced attorney with whom you can work well cannot be overstated. It can truly make the difference between smooth sailing or rough waters, and it is a decision that is truly worth thinking through carefully.
Beyond simply looking for an attorney with good credentials, you will also want to find someone whose personality is a good fit for yours and who has a philosophy of practice that melds well with how you would like your divorce to proceed. Some attorneys, for example, are known as contentious litigators – they are the attorneys that you might want on your side if you anticipate an acrimonious and drawn-out battle in court. On the other hand, if you and your spouse can get along fairly amicably and you would like to explore alternative methods of resolving your divorce issues outside of court, you will likely want an attorney who believes in the value of using the collaborative law process or the mediation process and who is well trained in doing so.
Certainly, the process of choosing an attorney will involve meeting with that attorney in person as well, not only to get a sense of his or her personality but to ask questions and discuss important aspects of your case. It is always a good idea to meet with several attorneys so that you can compare your feelings and thoughts about each meeting and ultimately feel satisfied with the choice that you make. The question is – how do you best prepare for that meeting?
Here are a few helpful suggestions for getting the most out of your meeting as you prepare to make this important decision:
- Gather Important Documents: Before your initial consultation, it can be helpful to gather important documents that will give the attorney a good overview of your personal circumstances, including your assets and debts, and other essential information. Some documents you may want to bring include:
- Financial statements;
- Income tax returns;
- Canceled checks;
- Brokerage statements;
- Mortgage statements;
- Credit card statements;
- Vehicle titles;
- Pension and retirement account information;
- Information about any businesses you may own;
- Any other documentation you feel may be helpful or relevant.
- Make a List of Important Questions: It can also be very helpful to think ahead not only about what information you should provide to your attorney – but also what information the attorney can provide to you. Some things you might want to ask about include:
- The attorney’s professional background and credentials;
- The attorney’s philosophy of practice;
- The attorney’s fee schedule and method of billing;
- Whether or not your goals for your case are realistic and attainable;
- The attorney’s experience in methods of alternative dispute resolution;
- How the attorney’s office will handle day-to-day work on your case;
- How often the attorney will keep you informed and updated about your case;
- The attorney’s references and reputation in the community;
- And any other questions that are important to you.
Along with some of these questions, be sure to bring a pen and paper to jot down other questions you may think of during your meeting.
- Think Through Key Issues Ahead of Time: Every divorce, every individual, every family – all are unique. As a result, you may face issues in your divorce that other families don’t face – or there may be particular aspects of certain issues that are very important to you. Take some time to think through what matters you might want to discuss with an attorney, including:
Spend some time not only thinking about what issues you might want to discuss but also making a list of potential questions you may have concerning each of those issues. In addition, if you have helpful information or documentation you can bring with respect to those issues, doing so will always be helpful to ensure that you can really make the most of the conversation, and leave the meeting with a good idea of whether or not the attorney will be able to help you work toward resolving those issues in a way that works best for you, and for your family.
Taking these helpful steps ahead of time as you prepare to meet with a potential attorney should go a long way toward helping you make the most out of that meeting, as you attempt to decide whether or not that attorney would work well with you, and be a good fit for your needs and goals as you move through the divorce process. Ultimately, you may have to meet with several attorneys before you find the right one – but taking the time to be thorough is well worth it. You will be working closely with whatever attorney you choose for some time – making the effort to choose wisely is important.
At The Law Office of Dustin McCrary, we are proud of our reputation for successfully representing countless clients in the community to move through the divorce process smoothly and successfully and on toward a new, brighter chapter ahead. We would be honored to have the opportunity to help you too. If you’re searching for an attorney who can check all of the boxes for you as you move forward with the divorce process, don’t hesitate to contact us soon.