Even if you are sure you want to divorce, you might not be sure how to make the first steps. For many people, the first they do is set up a consultation with a divorce attorney, which is a wise move. But, do you know how to get the most out of this consultation?
Attorneys can only help you as much you help them. The better prepared you are for your consultation, the better picture you create for the attorney, allowing them to more accurately prepare a strategy that protects your interests.
Your divorce could take many paths, depending on the complexity of your finances, the length of your marriage, whether you have children and other factors. Be sure to take stock of these things when preparing for your meeting, so that an attorney can understand how to best serve your needs.
Building a complete financial picture
The state of your finances is one of the most important components of any divorce. Divorces are very similar to business relationships in a legal sense, and each spouse retains rights to property held within the marriage.
A good place to start is by collecting pay stubs, tax returns, insurance policies, investment statements and any documentation of debts, like credit card statements.
You should also gather any documentation you can that deals with real estate, as this can get particularly tricky in a divorce — especially in Brooklyn, where any real estate holdings are significant. This should include any deeds you or your spouse hold, as well as any mortgage documentation and lease agreements that pertain to the property.
Don't forget agreements and legal documents
If you and your spouse have a prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement, be sure to bring a copy of this. Your attorney should review it to understand any way that it defines terms for your divorce, and whether or not the agreement is likely to hold up in court.
If either you or your spouse are currently involved in any litigation, or were in the past, bring any documentation you can gather about the matter.
Furthermore, if you have children, it is wise to bring their birth certificates.
Be prepared to ask and answer questions
The reality of divorce is that it almost always involves discussing uncomfortable topics. Your attorney is likely to ask questions you may feel uneasy answering. It is crucial to answer any questions as honestly as possible. If you lie to an attorney, you only limit their ability to advocate on your behalf and protect your interests.
It is also important to ask any questions that you have. If you wait until you are in the middle of the meeting, you may not remember them all, so consider writing down a list of your questions ahead of time.
With proper preparation, you can make the most of your meeting and get on the way to a fresh start.