What Your Divorce Lawyer Needs to Know
When you talk to a divorce lawyer about your case, there are several questions you need to ask. But any good attorney should ask you questions as well. The more information an attorney has, the better they will be able to help you.
What is your story? What happened between you and your spouse to put you in front of a divorce attorney?
The important points the attorney will be looking for are when you were married, how long you have been married, what happened—or did not happen—during the marriage, your income and employment situation, if you have children and why you are in the situation you are in.
If you own a home or real estate what do you want to do with it? Leave the home? Relocate? Sell the home and split the proceeds?
What is your financial situation? Do you know what accounts you do or don’t have? Do you have a list of your assets and liabilities?
Assets are simply the stuff everyone has – cars, boats, bank accounts, retirement accounts, etc. Liabilities—also known as debts—include mortgages, equity lines of credit, car loans, school loans, and past-due taxes.
Does your spouse know that you are here?
- Does he/she know that you want to terminate the marriage?
- Have you talked to each other about splitting up?
- Have you talked about the kids or property division?
- Do the kids know?
Most people don’t look forward to telling their spouse they want to leave and file for divorce. While telling your spouse before visiting an attorney is your choice—letting them know ahead of time is usually a good idea.
Surprisingly someone with divorce papers will only make a hard situation worse, as well as create possible legal problems down the road. Domestic violence or concerns that the other spouse may abduct any children is an exception to this situation and must be handled with caution.
What are the best thing and the worse thing your spouse is going to say about you?
How are you going to afford a divorce attorney? What about six, 12 or 15 months later, if the case is still going on?
You and your lawyer should talk about fees and costs as soon as possible. If these fees and costs aren't discussed, either of you might make false or incorrect assumptions. These assumptions can harm the future lawyer-client relationship. If you are concerned about the cost of your divorce, talk with your attorney about how much you can afford to pay and any fee limits. If you feel that you can't afford this particular attorney, ask if they can refer you to another lawyer or agency.
You have to communicate with your attorney regularly and if money becomes an issue, let them know immediately. Attorneys provide you with their knowledge and services. They also have bills to pay--staff, rent, utilities and other costs. Can you borrow money from a friend or relative? Is a payment plan available? Agree to fees only if you know you will be able to pay them.
Every divorce has its ups and downs. Your divorce lawyer is your advocate, but they are not a mind reader. An attorney can only work with what you give them. Be involved in your case. Make the time to learn what is going on. Help them help you. For the best results, you and your lawyer need to work together as a team.