Before meeting with an attorney for the first time, you should locate important documents that can give the attorney insight on what your case may entail. Some documents you may want to bring are financial statements, income tax returns, canceled checks, brokerage statements, children’s bank account statements, and any documents concerning the family’s assets. You should also prepare a checklist of questions about the attorney’s professional background, his competency of issues pertaining to your case, whether or not your goals are realistic. You can also ask questions pertaining to the services the attorney typically offers. Generally, family law attorneys can help you determine which belongings are marital property as opposed to separate property, they can assist in drafting a separation agreement between you and your spouse, and even help you address unforeseen issues. Along with some of the below listed questions, also bring a pen and paper to jot down questions you may think of during your meeting.
- Who will be working on my case?
- What training and experience do the lawyers who will be working on my case have?
- How many similar cases has your firm handled in the past year?
- What are your average fees in cases similar to mine? What do you estimate my case will cost?
- How do you determine your fees and what is included? Is the actual divorce or “absolute divorce” included in your fees?
- How does your firm handle: payment of fees, returning calls, providing copies of correspondence and other documents, and keeping me up-to-date about the progress of my case?
- When and how will I be able to communicate with the lawyers working on my case?
- Are my goals in this case realistic? Do you anticipate any issues? If so, how will we address them?
- How long do you anticipate it will take to resolve my case?
- How often do you go to court? Do you prefer litigation to settling the case?
After meeting with an attorney and hearing his or her answers to some of the above questions, you should have a better sense if attorney you met with will be the best advocate for you. If you don’t feel the attorney is the right fit for your situation, you may need to continue your search. Once you find an attorney you are confident in, you will feel relief putting your personal matters in their hands.