Getting divorced can be one of the biggest events that an individual can go through in their life. It is something that is important to prepare for and make sure it is the right decision for you. One key part of this preparation is to find the right divorce lawyer for you.
When you have done your research and found a suitable lawyer, the next step is your first meeting. When you are properly prepared for this initial meeting it will save you time and money in the long-term.
Here are key elements to prepare for when meeting with your divorce lawyer for the first time.
Think about timing
Ensuring you are spending enough time with your legal representative is a key factor when it comes to your initial meeting. You need to have enough time to discuss the background of your case, provide any key information that may help with your proceedings, as well as talk about expected outcomes.
Take a look at your schedule and make sure you have enough time to get to your lawyer’s office. Try to minimise any external barriers such as getting stuck in traffic or needing to rush from or to a meeting. Sometimes these things can’t be helped, but where possible try and book your meeting for a time when you will have the least distractions.
Another possible distraction that you should consider is not bringing your children with you. Firstly, you need to be 100 per cent focused on the meeting at hand. Secondly, you need to be open and honest in your discussions, so having your children there may hinder you ability to do this.
Prepare for your emotions
Many people feel anxious before and during their first initial meeting with their legal representative. Divorce proceedings are an anxious time and it is completely normal to feel nervous.
Bringing along a friend or another family member can help with your emotions, so if you are prone to anxiety or having a difficult time discussing your divorce, it might be ideal to bring someone with you to the meeting. Sometimes having someone you trust that already knows what you are going through will give you that added support. With so much going through your head at a time such as this, a trusted friend or family member can also remind you of conversations that you may need to have with your lawyer and prompt you to discuss this.
Make sure you bring what is required
Normally when you initially book your meeting and enquire about any initial consultation fee, you will sometimes be given a questionnaire to fill in. This is to help your lawyer prepare for the meeting before you arrive. They should also ask you to bring key documents and contracts.
If the person who is setting up the meeting or your lawyer doesn’t ask you to bring anything, it is wise to ask the question anyway. Sometimes miscommunication can arise and your legal professional may have thought another person in their firm may have already asked you to bring these items. When in doubt, just double check.
Some common divorce documentation that you may need to bring includes;
- Full details, such as address and birth date, of you, your partner and any children.
- Your marriage certificate.
- Employment details and how much you earn.
- Details of assets, including any properties and their values.
- Details of any credit or debt.
Get your questions ready
As with any meeting, it’s good to have questions ready to go prior to the meeting so you get the most out of your meeting and leave understanding next steps and potential outcomes.
As this is an anxious time, having prepared questions will help ensure you don’t forget to ask anything. Also, feeling prepared can help calm anxiety.
Typical questions to ask include;
- What fees will be involved during the divorce process? E.g. flat fee, hourly rate etc.
- How frequently and via what communication method will we have discussions and exchange information?
- How long will the end-to-end divorce process take?
Divorce proceedings are always a time filled with uncertainties and anxieties. However, one of the aims in preparing for your initial meeting with your legal representative is to calm these nerves and know that you are one step closer to resolving your legal matter and moving on. When preparing for your meeting, remember to make sure you have enough time and no distractions, bring a trusted friend along if you would feel more comfortable, bring relevant documents that are asked of you and prepare a list of questions.