Meeting with a divorce lawyer for the first time is a big step toward starting a new future, whether you are requesting divorce or defending a divorce action. Naturally, most people want to be prepared as much as possible to gets the most out of an initial session. I am often asked “how do I prepare,” or “what documents should I bring.” There is no solid right or wrong answer, but I have found that by organizing the financial documents listed below and following a few file management tips could save time and money and provide for an efficient and beneficial session
- Create an online file folder from remote online services such as Drobox or Google Drive or any other offsite portal. Electronic images can be transferred and accessed while your initial consult is taking place. You can create subfolders and title them “Evidence” or Financial Documents” It also helps to categorize items in the folder by title such as Email wanting divorce,” “2018 Joint Tax Returns” or “Husband IRS Form W2.”
- If you do not have online access or electronic documents, a paper file folder or three ring binders will do, organized by date of each document. I prefer to use clear plastic file folder covers to preserve any documents.
- Gather together as many financial statements as possible such as tax returns, bank account and retirement statements, tax forms, corporate documents, accounting records including profit and loss statements, payment advices for as long as possible and any documentary evidence such as emails, text messages, videos and photographs of children, etc.
- Make notes in chronological order of significant events that occurred in your marriage such as wedding dates, children’s birthdays, dates of employment or the date employment stopped to take care of children, family vacations that were taken and even dates when you became aware of a potential cause of the divorce.
- Write down specific questions to ask and bring them to the meeting. It makes for an organized approach to a wide range of issues.
- Set specific goals throughout the process by writing down a time frame in which you would like to see things happen so that you can discuss timing of the divorce process.
Again, there are no right or wrong answers, but if you follow the above suggestions, you will have an efficient first session and set the pace in the beginning to make well informed decisions and limit the cost of the divorce process.