It’s finally happened — you’re ready to move forward with the divorce, but you don’t know exactly what to do next. There’s no need for embarrassment, this is far more common than you might think.
After all, if you’ve never divorced before, how could you be completely prepared already? Divorce is often a very emotional process and can feel overwhelming when you’re in the middle of it.
The good news is that it doesn’t have to overwhelm you. An experienced divorce attorney can help you navigate this complicated process and ensure that your rights stay protected.
So, how can you help an attorney to help *you* most effectively? The simplest ways to begin are with documentation and honesty.
Save time and money by doing your homework
One of the most common misuses of an attorney’s time and abilities involve tracking down the many documents that your divorce may require. It’s impossible to know all of the documents you should collect without knowing the specifics of your divorce and the things you and your spouse may need to negotiate.
However, there are some basics that are always helpful and time-saving. In general, you should bring
– The last 3-5 years of personal and business tax returns for you and your spouse
– Income statements
– Insurance policies
– Personal debt documents
– Any prenuptial or postnuptial agreements
A more comprehensive list of documents may help you prepare further, and ensure that you make the most of each consultation with an attorney. If you have difficulty tracking down certain documents, or if you suspect that your spouse may hide assets, an attorney may be more effective at finding these. However, you can usually save yourself unnecessary delays and difficulty by gathering documents and organizing them before you arrive at your initial consultation.
Once the process begins, the need for more granular documentation may grow, but the basics should suffice for your initial consultation.
Be honest with your legal counsel
There are many strategies you can use when pursuing a divorce, but not all are equally effective or ethical. When you enlist the help of an attorney, you do yourself no favors by lying or withholding unflattering information that pertains to the divorce. If you give your attorney inaccurate information, you may invalidate some aspect of your divorce later on, costing you dearly.
An attorney serves as your advocate and guide, not your judge. The more honestly you answer questions about your marriage and finances, the more effectively an attorney can represent you and protect your rights and interests as you walk through this difficult season and into a new chapter of life on the other side.