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Divorce

Preparing for a Divorce Consultation

After a couple of years, you and your spouse might have realized that things are not going well for you. Days filled with sunshine and love suddenly became dark and dull. Nights spent with passion, unfortunately, lost its romance and intimacy. Suddenly, the person who meant the world to you is no longer fit to live in your world. 

Divorce seems to be the best solution. But have you ever asked yourself what divorce really is? Are you ready to deal with the process? Do you know how to prepare for it? Read further to find out. 

What Should I Anticipate?

It is expected for couples to feel anxious during their first meeting with their respective lawyers. Don’t fret, feeling anxious is completely normal and you will eventually get over it. 

The first consultation is when you would get to know your lawyer. You tell them what brought you to them and you discuss with them what you want to achieve. Prior to the initial consultation, make a list of all the questions you want to ask your lawyer so you would not have anything left out. Everything you tell your lawyer during the initial and other consultations is confidential, so be confident to tell your lawyer anything. 

The lawyer will explain to you the divorce process, your rights, and what to expect out of the whole thing. Once enough information has been gathered, you will be provided with the appropriate legal advice. With the right information, they will also be able to indicate your possible entitlements in a property settlement, and the care arrangements available for your child. 

So, how do you prepare for the initial consultation? There are a couple of tips available for you. First, you have to understand your options for getting divorced. In movies, we often see divorce as a messy, complicated, and expensive process, but only very few couples take this path in real life. 

Often, a divorcing spouse works together, using a wide variety of methods to arrive at a solution that would address their respective interests, as well as those of their child. In the preparation of your initial consultation, you must take the time to know about collaborative divorce, mediation, and negotiation. For you to identify the best strategy for your divorce, you need to deeply understand each of the aforementioned strategies.

Second, you need to understand the particular issues that require resolution during the divorce. It is helpful to understand the issues as it is to understand the methods applicable to resolving those issues. In a divorce, a spouse would need to come to terms, either amicably or through a legal process, with alimony, property division, child care, and child custody. 

You need to know both your individual rights as well as your child’s. You need to understand the extent of your rights, and how these rights are going to be applied during the divorce process. Furthermore, it is gravely important for you to understand how the court addresses the different areas of concern based on previous cases so you would no longer have difficulties should your time come. 

The third tip is to know what you want from your divorce. What assets do you want to keep? What specific issues do you want to raise regarding child custody? If you want to avoid going to court, you and your spouse would have to agree on the splitting of the marital assets, child custody, and other issues. Although to avoid further mishaps, it still is best to bring to court these matters. 

Fourth, secure a copy of all your property and financial records. You will have to ensure that you and your lawyer would have a crystal clear picture of your divisible and non-divisible assets and sources of income. These include:

  • Business records
  • Bank and investment account statements
  • Non-titled assets
  • Pre-marriage properties of you and your spouse
  • Prenuptial or postnuptial agreements

It is a must that you have all the said documents ready before the initial consultation. The lawyer would look into these documents and would explain to you how the court would go over the division of your different assets and liabilities. Through these documents, the lawyer would also clarify which properties are divisible and non-divisible.

Fifth, create a list of other issues or circumstances that may possibly have an impact on your divorce. This would range from personal to business-related affairs. Your lawyer would want to know about relevant details and issues, so he would know what role they would play in the process. Again, do not be hesitant. Whatever information you would be divulging to your lawyer remains confidential.

Sixth and last, do your research. A little knowledge goes a long way. The internet does not fall short of information, so research as much as you can regarding the divorce process. Just keep in mind that the sources of your research are credible, accurate, and relevant to your circumstance. You don’t want to waste time with your lawyer on things that you could at least learn on your own; remember that the longer you keep your lawyer, the higher the charges. 

What Should I Bring?

Assuming that it would be your first divorce, you might have no idea of the things to bring during your initial consultation. Allow us to give you an overview of the list. Do take down notes and place it somewhere you could see it easily so you wouldn’t forget. 

First on the list are your goals. Is your goal primarily focused on child custody? Do you want security? Are you focused on the properties and financial settlements? Whatever that is, focus on what is most important to you. 

Imagine your life during and after the divorce, and work on it. Create a hard copy of your thoughts, hold onto it, and show it during the first consultation. It will help your lawyer strategize and it will also reveal if your lawyer is the best fit for your goals. 

Second is your financial overview. This overview should include any relevant information or proof that shows your properties and financial assets. This could be the actual documents or just a mere list of it. 

This should include how the account is titled, all your credit accounts–including debts, debtors, current balance, monthly payment–, and any additional assets and its current value. However, if you have no access to your accounts, bring that to your lawyer’s attention. If you are withheld from access to your accounts intentionally, this may be grounds for abuse. It would be good for you to consider getting an attorney that specializes in domestic violence if your current attorney doesn’t see this.

Third, are your paystubs and tax returns. If you are self-employed, bring documents to support your claims. This is important if your goal is geared on alimony or child support. Without the paystubs and tax documents, there would be no definite information of your likelihood to receive spousal support. 

Fourth is your prenuptial or any other agreement that you have with your spouse. Through these agreements, your lawyer could best advise you concerning settlement agreements by taking a good look at your prenuptial agreements. If you want to make the most out of your consultation, make sure to bring all of your prenuptial documents. 

The fifth is a list of questions. In the earlier part of this article, we have already asked you to prepare a list of questions. You certainly prepared that list for a purpose and that is to bring it during your consultation. Show it to your lawyer, and have them address the point of your questions. As much as possible, do not miss out on anything.

The last, and the most important, is an open mind. Do not compare your divorce to those you see in movies or to those of people you know. Every divorce is unique. You go through different struggles and obtain different outcomes. 

Maintaining an open mind would allow your lawyer to come up with effective strategies that would meet your goals. Do not allow yourself to be trapped in a particular position that would hamper you from moving forward. There are so many ways to get a divorce, so don’t get stuck in an area that would impede you from getting a solution for your circumstance.

Conclusion

Divorce consultations could be frightening at first but with the right information, good lawyer, and genuine support system, there is nothing to be frightened of. Keep your gaze on what you want to achieve, and continue working on that. Do not forget the points that we have armed you with, and you will be breezing through the entire process just fine.

By Lilian Synan

Lilian is a long time expert on property settlement.

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