If you’re considering filing for divorce and are seeking an attorney to help you with the process, it’s a good idea to know what kind of information they’ll need from you ahead of time so that your initial consultation will be as productive as possible.
When speaking to a new client, every attorney will have a list of questions that will help them determine the best plan of action to help you get your case moving in the right direction.
Here are five of the most common questions that you can expect when speaking with a family law attorney for the first time:
1) What Is Your Current Living Arrangement?
One of the most common reactions you or your spouse will have once you’ve decided to get divorced is for one or the other to move out of the family home. While it’s generally not a good idea for either spouse move out right away (unless personal safety is a factor), if you or your ex have already moved out, that’s important information for your attorney.
2) How Long Have You Been Separated?
If you and your spouse separated before deciding to get divorced, your attorney will want to know about it. While an informal separation will have little impact on your divorce case, a legal separation changes the circumstances dramatically.
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3) Do You Have Children Together?
If you and your spouse have children together (children from previous relationships don’t count), your attorney will need that information. If your children are under eighteen years old, then you and your ex will need to figure out child custody, child support, a parenting plan, and so forth.
Child custody and visitation rights are often particularly emotional issues for parents, so it’s important to be honest about what your goals are for those issues when your attorney asks about them.
4) What Caused Your Divorce?
While California is a no-fault state for divorce, it’s still important for your attorney to know the reasons you decided to end your marriage. Certain circumstances, like domestic violence or substance abuse for example, can have an impact on your divorce proceedings.
Having this information upfront is critical for your attorney to make a plan that will help you get the outcome you’re looking for.
5) What Are Your Must-Haves?
Be prepared to tell your attorney what things are most important for you to get out of the divorce, such as keeping custody of your children and/or keeping the family home. With your priorities identified, your attorney can focus on those objectives and not worry about other issues that you don’t care as much about.
Keep in mind of course, that it’s unlikely that you’ll get everything you want. Unless your ex unequivocally gives up their claim to all the things you want, you’ll most likely have to settle for less than what you were hoping for in most cases.
Don’t Be Shy About Asking Your Own Questions
During your consultation, don’t be shy about asking the attorney you’re speaking with questions as well. Also keep in mind that you don’t have to hire the first attorney you speak with.
In fact, speaking with a few different family law attorneys before deciding which on to hire is almost certainly in your best interest.