That first time you walk into a divorce attorney’s office can be kind of scary. Perhaps a little intimidating. Maybe even a great relief. Whatever you’re experiencing, it is probably very stressful and upsetting. We get it. We do this every day. We understand. First time clients walk through the doors of one of our offices each day and we are very familiar with the uncertainty and fear that comes with that first consultation.
Whatever feelings you may be experiencing at the time, in order for your initial divorce consultation to be worth your time, you should come prepared. A divorce attorney usually only offers one free divorce consultation, so unless money is abundant for you, you should plan to make the most of that one free visit.
More important than being emotionally equipped, however, is being properly prepared with any documents and personal information that your attorney may need. Bringing these items with you to the consultation will help you reduce the need for later phone calls and trips back to your attorney’s office. All of which will end up costing you more money in the end.
Items that your attorney may need:
Try to put together as many of these items before your first divorce consultation, and bring them all with you. Being prepared will save a lot of time and money.
- Information about any prior marriage of either spouse, including a copy of the divorce decree or judgment and child support orders.
- A copy of any domestic contracts, like your prenuptial agreement
- Information about any previous legal proceedings between you and your spouse, especially if it involves any of the children.
- Dates and particulars about any previous separations, attempts at reconciliation, or marriage counseling.
- The name of your employer and your spouse’s employer, including dates of employment.
- Social security and driver’s license numbers for both spouses.
- Copies of your (single or joint) income tax returns for the last three years.
- Copies of your last three pay stubs
- Information about your spouse’s income and any other household income.
- The name of your bank, savings and checking accounts numbers, amounts currently in the accounts, and whose names are on the accounts.
- Any information about stocks, bonds and other investment information.
- Pension and retirement account information, whose name it’s in and when they began to contribute to the pension.
- A list of any valuable items you and/or your spouse own, such as jewelry, artwork, and other collections.
- Purchase date, purchase price, remaining balances and current value of all real estate holdings, including your family home.
- List all debts, including amount owed, to whom, when they were incurred, when they are due, and whose name they are in.
- Education and employment background of both you and your spouse.
- Names and ages of all children.
It’s important that you be entirely honest with your attorney. No matter how embarrassing or uncomfortable some subjects may be, your attorney has probably already heard them and won’t be shocked. Also, remember that all of your communications with your attorney are privileged. This means that everything you talk about is protected by the attorney/client relationship, and is entirely confidential.
The usual first time legal consultation will take about an hour or less. During that time you’ll need to share a lot of information about your marriage and pending divorce with your attorney. Armed with everything you provide, your attorney will advise you about the Michigan divorce process. They will explain what you can expect, the order of events, and what your options and legal rights are under our laws.
We also advise that, in addition to all of the information you bring, make a note of any “skeletons” in your family’s closet. Issues like drug or alcohol abuse, domestic violence, sexual misconduct, or any criminal histories. These things can have a huge impact on the outcome of your case.
And finally, spend a little time considering any questions you may have ahead of time. Write them down and bring the list with you. A first time consultation can be overwhelming and you may forget in the moment things you had planned to ask beforehand. Every time you call your attorney up to ask a question after this consultation, you will be billed for it, so if you come fully prepared you will save yourself both time and money.
Choosing to end your marriage is a big and often very painful step. So the more prepared you are in advance, the smoother the process is likely to be for you. We hope this list is helpful for you in preparing for your Oakland County divorce consultation. And remember, if you need a skilled and experienced Oakland County divorce attorney, look no further than The Kronzek Firm. We are here to help. Call us 24/7 at 1 800-576-6035.