Your initial consultation with a Family Law lawyer can be a nerve-racking experience, but it is a very important first step in dealing with your family law matter. When you are parting from your spouse you may be dealing with separation, divorce, child custody as well as division of property and assets. This is why it is important that you consult and hire a lawyer you can trust, are comfortable with, and that has experience dealing with similar matters.

Your initial consultation with your lawyer is as much about you sharing the details of your circumstances and receiving legal advice, as it is about your lawyer and you deciding if you are able to work together as client and attorney. To assist you with making the most of your consultation with your family lawyer, we have put together a list of tips to help you prepare.

All Information Shared is Confidential

Entering your consultation with the understanding that your conversation and anything discussed is confidential, and that your lawyer cannot discuss it with others is important. Your attorney is there to assist you with your legal matters. Any relevant information that is not shared with your lawyer, including sensitive family matters may affect the assessment of your situation.

Have a Synopsis of Your Family Law Matter Prepared

Being able to articulate your situation factually and with as much detail as possible will assist your lawyer in understanding your particular circumstances. Come prepared with key dates such as marriage date, when you separated, the date either you or your spouse moved out (if one of you has left the matrimonial home). Breakdown each individual’s role in the household, and include details on each spouse’s career. Indicate if anyone had to take a step back from their career to care for the family or to help with the other spouse’s career. Finally, include details regarding children.

Bring Copies of Important Documents

Having copies of some important documents will eliminate you from having to remember key pieces of information and help your consultation flow smoothly. These documents include income tax returns or Notice of assessments for both you and your spouse for the past three years, business or partnership agreements and financials for any companies owned by you or your spouse (jointly or separately), recent pay stubs, any marriage contracts signed prior or after your date of marriage, a separation agreement if there is one, any court documents that you may have been served with, and any other documents you believe may be helpful.

List of Assets and Liabilities

If you believe one of your legal issues will be a division of property, prepare a separate list of assets and liabilities for both yourself and your spouse. Include items that were personally owned prior to the marriage and items or property acquired during the marriage. Outlining any personal property obtained throughout the marriage by either inheritance or as a gift will also be helpful.

Write Down Your Questions

It is only natural to have questions about your case, the attorney and their law firm on your first consultation. Taking the time to think about these questions before hand and writing them down will ensure you get all of your concerns addressed, your questions asked, and that you can maximize your appointment time. Here are some key questions to consider:

  • How long have you practiced family law?
  • Describe your approach in matters such as mine?
  • Is there anything to be concerned about? Or actions I should or should not take?
  • What is the easiest process to resolve my matter?
  • How can I resolve issues regarding children?
  • What are the fees and payments?
  • What are the next steps?

Regardless if you are able to prepare all of the above for your consultation or not, your initial consultation with a family lawyer is for you to gather information about your situation, to introduce the divorce lawyer to all of the details, and for both you and your attorney to evaluate if you will be able to successfully work together as attorney and client. Remember, the more you are prepared, the easier the consultation will flow.