The time has come — you are ready to file for divorce. You’ve talked it through with some of your close friends and family, and you and your spouse simply cannot make the marriage work. However, now that you’re ready to pull the trigger, you find that you don’t completely know how to take the first step. You don’t want to waste time by being unprepared when you have your first meeting with an attorney.
If you resonate with any those ideas and feelings, don’t worry. You are just like thousands of other spouse who want to make sure that they approach divorce responsibly and don’t know exactly where to start.
The good news is that you can easily prepare for an initial divorce consultation by gathering a number of documents and thinking through a few questions to ask an attorney to set the tone of your divorce.
Decide what kind of divorce you want
As surprising as this may seem, not everybody wants to simply end their marriage through divorce. Some spouses prioritize a certain type of custody of children, others have their eyes on a particular piece of property.
Some divorcing spouses want to use the divorce to punish their divorcing partner, or hope to end the relationship as civilly and calmly as possible.
You also want to make sure you and an attorney understand each other’s expectations about how long the process may take to finalize and how much the divorce may cost you overall. While these aspects of a divorce can fluctuate, establishing mutual expectations can keep an attorney able to serve your needs and protect your rights and interests more clearly.
Gather as many relevant financial documents as you can
You also want to come to the consultation with as much financial documentation as possible. One of the most complicated parts of any divorce is negotiating a fair division of assets and liabilities. In order to get a feel for how this division may play out, you must help an attorney create the most comprehensive understanding of your marriage’s financial life as you can.
You should start by gathering
- pay stubs
- bank statements
- investment statements
- credit card statements
- mortgage information
- tax returns
- Any other debt or income documentation
You should also consider bringing in any prenuptial or postnuptial agreement you have, as well as any documents that outline legal proceedings involving you or your spouse.
While your divorce may entail diving deeper into your financial life than this simple list, arriving at a consultation with these things collected should help an attorney create a decent picture of the task ahead and aid you in creating a strong strategy for moving forward.