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How to Prepare to Meet with a Divorce Lawyer


Published on July 30th, 2021

The divorce process begins well before any formal legal action is taken. Creating parenting agreements, determining support and dividing assets requires guidance from an attorney and preparation on the part of the client. That’s why, as soon as you suspect your marriage is ending, you can start gathering information for what will be your first step in the divorce process: meeting with a lawyer.

It helps attorneys to better focus their advice when clients arrive prepared to shed light on their situation in a clear and organized manner. Doing so might also allow you to cover more territory with your attorney, possibly saving yourself money. Your first step is to start making lists of everything you need.

Prepare Written Questions

Preparing for a divorce can be overwhelming.  In that first meeting with a lawyer, it may be hard to remember all of the questions you wanted to ask. Be sure to write down any questions you have beforehand, so you won’t forget during the meeting.

Provide a Written Summary of Your Situation

The initial meeting will likely entail a high-level discussion of your situation, so some of your initial work is in preparation for what’s to come. There won’t be time to review every detail of your case at the initial meeting.  Therefore, a summary description of facts that you believe are relevant can keep you on track and provide a helpful guide for your lawyer.

Gather Relevant Documentation

Although you do not need to bring documentation to an initial meeting, it is helpful to start organizing documentation relating to your case.  Your attorney will help guide you through this document gathering process.

While some of these items may not apply to your circumstances, they are typical documents that are relevant in a divorce:

  • Court documents you may have received, including Summons, Notices, Pleadings, Motions, Petitions, Orders and the like.
  • Year-to-date paystub and any other documents reflecting sources of income;
  • Real estate documents, including recent mortgage statement and closing statement;
  • Bank statements;
  • Credit Card statements;
  • Documents reflecting Other assets;
  • Income tax returns and tax forms (W-2, 1099 and K-1) for the last three years;
  • Documentation reflecting valuable collections and values thereof; and
  • Documentation reflecting assets sold or transferred during the last three years.

You will also save your lawyer time if everything is well-organized and easy to access. View this online checklist for more examples of documentation you may need.

Organize All Case-Related Information

Your first meeting will kick off the planning process so you know what comes next. As such, it can help to share detailed information and a timeline so that a general picture of your situation can be conveyed upfront. Prepare written details about your marital history, incidents or important matters relating to your parenting situation, and any other important information about your case.  The more detail the better.

Your financial information should include lists of any existing debts, as well. Mortgages, car loans, credit card debt, personal loans, outstanding medical bills, and student loans may eventually factor into your divorce agreement.

As asset discovery often plays a role in more complex divorces, prepare to be completely upfront with your lawyer about your personal assets and debts so he or she can fully prepare for your case.

Include Any Relevant Electronic Records

Increasingly, electronic files and social media are being used as supporting evidence in legal cases. If disagreements around parenting time or financial issues arise, you may need to provide copies of text messages, emails, or online posts to support your claims.

A good lawyer will be able to guide you through the process, starting with that first meeting. When you set it up, find out if there’s anything specific you can do to have a more productive meeting. The response you receive can help you organize your records so that your focus is where it needs to be.

The attorneys at Davis Friedman are experienced in every type of family law dispute. We can answer your questions so that you are as prepared as possible through every step of your divorce proceeding.  Although this can be a difficult and overwhelming process, we are here to guide you through this process and help you obtain the best possible result.  Call 312-782-2220 to schedule a meeting with an attorney today.

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