How to Prepare for First Meeting with Divorce Lawyer in Orange County, CA
Your first meeting with a divorce attorney in California is usually an initial consultation, which allows you and your attorney to get to know one another, discuss your case and the expectations you both have, and discuss a potential plan of action. You’ll also talk about your budget and your attorney’s fees, and you can both decide if you want to work together on your case.
Your first meeting with an attorney once you have hired one will involve initiating your case, which means collecting all relevant information regarding your property, debts, finances, children, etc.
It is always best to be prepared for this first meeting, which can be intimidating, especially if this is your first divorce, or if you are not the one initiating it. Remember that an attorney will charge you by the hour, so the more prepared you are for each meeting, the less time you will spend getting ready with the attorney.
Try to arrive at your appointment ahead of time in case there is any intake paperwork that you need to fill out prior to working with your chosen divorce attorney. You’ll need basic information for you and your spouse or partner, including your full names, contact information, employment and income information, birth dates, social security numbers, etc. If you have children together, you will also need their names, birth dates and addresses.
If you have been served with paperwork regarding a divorce, it is critical that you contact an attorney as soon as possible so that you do not miss deadlines that may affect your rights. Once you have scheduled your first meeting with a divorce attorney, it’s time to get ready.
What Should I Bring to My First Meeting with a Divorce Attorney?
Normally, you do not absolutely need to bring anything with you to your first meeting unless your attorney has specifically asked you to. However, it may be helpful to bring documents and records that you have on hand.
• Any paperwork that you have filed regarding your divorce, or any paperwork that has been served upon you,
• Any questions you may have thought of that you want to ask your attorney,
• Tax returns and filing paperwork from your marriage,
• Pay stubs,
• Bank statements,
• Pension plans,
• Information about real estate
• Credit card bills, mortgage information, car payment information or student loan information,
• Restraining orders,
• Police reports regarding you or your spouse, especially those that pertain to domestic violence,
• If you do have any incriminating evidence, bring that as well.
Financial paperwork can affect the outcome of most of the issues in your divorce, from child support and spousal support to the division of property and debts.
Tax paperwork will allow your attorney to understand not only how much you and your spouse both earn, but it shows information about other assets like pension plans and investment accounts. You should go back at least three years when you’re getting this information for your meeting.
The most recent paperwork from a pension plan, IRA or 401(k) can help an attorney determine any mandatory contributions that may be deducted from income, which affect support payments and the division of property and debts.
Bank statements from any checking accounts, savings accounts, or other bank accounts, as well as pay stubs, will let the attorney know what you and your spouse are earning, and whether or not either of you have any bonuses, commissions or expense reimbursements.
Real estate documents are critical when it comes to dividing property and debts.
The sooner you can pull this information together, the faster you and your attorney will be able to make decisions on how to proceed with your divorce.
Remember to Ask Questions
Your attorney is here to represent you, to provide legal advice, and to help you make informed decisions. As you think of questions, write them down and bring your list with you to your first meeting with your attorney. This will help give your attorney an idea of what you know, what you want, and what you still need to figure out.
An attorney who does not answer your questions is likely not the right attorney for your divorce.
It’s also important to remember that while you have been living with your marriage since it started, your lawyer is new to your unique situation. The more questions you have about the specifics of your case, the more your attorney can get to know you and your family situation.
Prior to signing on with your attorney, you will also want to discuss your budget. Before your first meeting, consider what you are willing and able to pay for a lawyer, and discuss your financial concerns with your lawyer when you are at your meeting prior to signing any documents.
What to Expect at Your First Meeting with a Divorce Lawyer in California
You should walk in and find a secretary at your attorney’s office. He or she will either call the attorney to meet you, or take you to a conference room where your attorney can greet you. There should be little waiting time.
Your meeting will be completely confidential. Every attorney is different, but an initial meeting with an attorney should cover several things:
• The divorce process, and how it will apply to your case. This can be a general overview or a more detailed progression based on the information you have shared with your divorce lawyer.
• Specifics regarding your children, from child support to child custody.
• The division of assets and debts in your marriage, and how the process works.
• Attorney fees and costs, especially if you have a budget or request a payment plan.
Divorce Attorneys in Orange County, California
If you are considering filing for divorce, or you have been served with divorce papers, it is important to contact a divorce attorney as soon as possible. The more prepared you are for your first meeting with your divorce lawyer in California, the better your attorney can handle your case. Remember that there are specific deadlines that can affect the outcome of your case, and the sooner you speak to a lawyer, the better prepared you will be.
Contact the attorneys at Yanez & Associates today to schedule your free initial consultation.
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