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Your First Meeting With a Divorce Attorney: How to Prepare

Regardless of whether you or your spouse initiates your divorce, or whether you want to go full steam ahead or take time to carefully explore your options, meeting with a divorce attorney for the first time can be daunting. Here are some tips to put you at ease and help you get the most out of that first meeting.

What to Bring to the Appointment

Review your attorney's website before your visit to see if there are any specific documents or information your attorney requests that people bring with them to the initial meeting.

If your spouse has initiated the divorce, it's essential that you bring any papers you've been served with to the attorney. You have a very limited time to respond to the allegations in a divorce petition. If no one has filed for divorce yet, you should bring basic biographical information — names, addresses, important dates — that would help your attorney to prepare a divorce petition on your behalf.

While it's not critical to bring financial documents to your first appointment, it is helpful. This information will be relevant at some point. It is quicker and much more cost-effective for you to gather bank statements, income tax returns, credit card statements, retirement and investment account statements, and the like than for your attorney to have to request them later from opposing counsel. (For a list of documents to gather, see our Top Ten Things You Should Do Before Filing For Divorce.)  

Lastly, write down a list of questions you have for your attorney. You may forget to ask something that's important to you if you don't have it written down. Leave space to jot down your lawyer's answers, too. One good question many people don't think to ask is, "What can I do to help keep my legal costs down?" If there are things you can do to save your attorney time, it will save you money.

Preparing Emotionally and Mentally

You may have been thinking about divorce for a while, but actually sitting down with a lawyer takes things to another level. Or perhaps your spouse has blindsided you with a request for a divorce. No matter what your circumstances, meeting a divorce lawyer for the first time can be stressful, because it makes the prospect of divorce more real.

Divorce can make life feel out of control. A good divorce lawyer will help you take the reins again. Pay attention to how talking with a prospective lawyer makes you feel. No matter how skilled, an attorney who ramps up your anxiety may not be a good fit for you. The right lawyer for you will not only have extensive experience with California family law, but will make you feel that you have a trusted advocate in your corner.

At Shaffer & Associates, we know our clients are counting on us to be their guides and advocates in the legal system. We also understand how stressful a divorce or other family law case can be on a personal level, and it's important to us to offer the support our clients need from their first appointment through the resolution of their case. To learn more about how Shaffer & Associates' experienced family law attorneys can help you, contact Shaffer & Associates online or call (619) 595-3167 today to schedule a free consultation.  

San Diego Bar AssociationSection of Family LawCalifornia State Bar Family Law American Bar Association Avvo Clients' Choice 2014