The First Consultation with a Family Lawyer – Things to Prepare
If you’ve found the best Chandler divorce lawyer and have your initial consultation with them, you’ll need to prepare a few things to the meeting. The initial consultation is where you’ll be able to explain your situation, discuss the sort of divorce you’re looking to have, and ask the lawyer questions about the entire process. The lawyer will ask a lot of questions, so you’ll also want to be prepared with knowledgeable answers so that both of you could see if the relationship would be a good fit.
Besides your own questions, you’ll want to prepare a few divorce documents for your family lawyer free consultation to really make the best out of the meeting. Not many people know what sort of divorce preparation they should do before meeting with their potential Chandler divorce attorney. To help you make the most out of your family lawyer free consultation, we created a chart that will explain steps on how to best prepare for your first consultation with a family law attorney:
There are more things you need to know before meeting your family lawyer for the first time:
Gather key facts about your case
As soon as you sit down with the lawyer, they’ll ask you to describe some key facts that made you want to seek an attorney. Usually, clients will describe stories in a choppy way or with key events and facts out of order. This won’t help your case, so the best divorce preparation is one that has key facts written down, in order and are cohesive. You’ll want to write down your side of the story as if you were telling a story, doing it in chronological order and identifying key names and dates. Don’t go write a novel and try to keep it all down to just one page. This will make you understand the overall narrative of the case so that you provide a comprehensive summary. At the end, include a small description of what you would like to see happen. This tells the lawyer what you’re hoping for them to achieve if they take on your case.
Still not sure what to do? Check out this divorce guide to see how the process works and what documents do you need to prepare:
Prepare relevant evidence and documents
Another thing you’ll want to do in your divorce preparation is to prepare any evidence or documents that’ll support your case. Besides hearing your narrative, the lawyer will also want to see any documents for informational purposes and to assess the strength of the case. Divorce documents to include are any financial statements, phone, email or social media records if they’ve been caught cheating, tax returns, or anything else you think is relevant and will help your case. It’s okay if you don’t bring all the divorce documents at the consultation since the lawyer will tell what else is needed at a later time. Before the meeting, though, gather the divorce documents and organize them in a binder to make it easier for the attorney to go through.
You may also review your attorney’s website before your visit to see if there are any specific documents or information your attorney requests that people bring with them to the initial meeting.
If your spouse has initiated the divorce, it’s essential that you bring any papers you’ve been served with to the attorney. You have a very limited time to respond to the allegations in a divorce petition. If no one has filed for divorce yet, you should bring basic biographical information — names, addresses, important dates — that would help your attorney to prepare a divorce petition on your behalf.
While it’s not critical to bring financial documents to your first appointment, it is helpful. This information will be relevant at some point. It is quicker and much more cost-effective for you to gather bank statements, income tax returns, credit card statements, retirement and investment account statements, and the like than for your attorney to have to request them later from opposing counsel. (For a list of documents to gather, see our Top Ten Things You Should Do Before Filing For Divorce.)
Did you know as of 2019 social media has been often used as evidence in a family court? If you didn’t, it is good to know when you share anything on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, because it can be used against your spouse and determine the result for a divorce case.
Make sure there’s no conflict of interest
At the beginning of the consultation, the lawyer will ask you if there are any conflicts of interest that might prevent them from ethically representing your case. They might ask you to bring a list of individuals who might be defendants or witnesses in the case. This is just to check of the law firm represents anyone on the other side, which would be a conflict of interest for them.
Think about your goals for representation beforehand
Don’t just go into the family lawyer free consultation saying you want to have a divorce. You’ll want to figure out your goals for representation as you gather divorce documents, too. You’ll want to be clear and specific about your objectives and what you from the case. Prepare a list of goals that you hope the lawyer can help you achieve.
Hiring a divorce lawyer will help you accomplish your goal and avoid frustration and unexpected mistake:
- Write down your questions
You’ll have a lot of questions for your initial consultation and the last thing you’ll want is to forget them while talking with the attorney. To make sure that you get everything you’re wondering answered, take the time to list them out on paper ahead of time. Some ideas on questions including:
Have you represented similar cases before?
What’s been the outcome of your last few cases?
How is the other side most likely to respond?
Is there anything else they’d like to see to evaluate your case?
What are your legal and non-legal options?
What percent of their practices is in the area of expertise you’re looking for?
Do they see any problems with the case?
What’s the process like for the case and how they’d go about handling it for you?
How long do they predict the whole process will be?
What do they charge for their services?
What do they predict the outcome of your case will be?
Ask for the attorney’s client intake sheet before the meeting
Many lawyers require that new clients fill out an intake sheet before the family lawyer free consultation. Make sure that you fill it out completely before the meeting. If they don’t bring one up on that initial phone call, ask if one is required to complete and how they’ll send it over to you.
Provide information about the other party
You’ll want to bring any relevant information about the other party, including pay stubs, where they work, relevant facts about their personality, etc. Also, note if there is a history of mental illness since this information can help your divorce case in court.
8. (Additional Tip) Review your attorney’s website before your visit
The last tip from us is to visit your attorney website to see if they have frequently asked questions about a family law case that would answer any other questions you may have and also if there are any specific documents or information your attorney requests that people bring with them to the initial meeting. If your spouse has initiated the divorce, it’s essential that you bring any papers you’ve been served with to the attorney. You have a very limited time to respond to the allegations in a divorce petition. If no one has filed for divorce yet, you should bring basic biographical information — names, addresses, important dates — that would help your attorney to prepare a divorce petition on your behalf.
Preparing Emotionally and Mentally
You may have been thinking about divorce for a while, but actually sitting down with a lawyer takes things to another level. Or perhaps your spouse has blindsided you with a request for a divorce. No matter what your circumstances, meeting a divorce lawyer for the first time can be stressful, because it makes the prospect of divorce more real.
Divorce can make life feel out of control. A good divorce lawyer will help you take the reins again. Pay attention to how talking with a prospective lawyer makes you feel. No matter how skilled, an attorney who ramps up your anxiety may not be a good fit for you. The right lawyer for you will not only have extensive experience with Arizona family law but will make you feel that you have a trusted advocate in your corner.
Divorce preparation is key to a successful case, even if you’re barely meeting with the lawyer for the first time. Gathering everything you need will help the lawyer figure out if they can take on your case and will make it easier if you’re planning on meeting with several attorneys regarding your divorce. You’ll simply need to take your pre-made binder to each consultation instead of having to prepare for each consultation!
At Shaffer Family Law, we know our clients are counting on us to be their guides and advocates in the legal system. We also understand how stressful divorce or other family law case can be on a personal level, and it’s important to us to offer the support our clients need from their first appointment through the resolution of their case. To learn more about how Shaffer Family Law experienced family law attorneys can help you, contact Shaffer Family Law online or call (480) 470-3030 today to schedule a free consultation.