Your first meeting with an attorney can be stressful. Many clients say: “I don’t know how to do this. I have never been to court before!” That’s OK. Not many folks have multiple divorce (or custody, etc.) cases under their belts when they first set foot inside the office of an attorney.
You should bring a list of questions to your first meeting with an attorney. You do not want the stress of the moment to prevent you from asking any questions which have been bouncing around your head during this difficult time. You should also bring a thumbnail sketch of your income, assets and liabilities.
It is important to have a list of goals which you hope to accomplish with the divorce or custody. Goals can be general: “I want to get through this process as quickly as possible, and with little disruption to my children’s lives as possible.” Or very specific: “I want to stay in my home for at least three more years.” Perhaps some of these goals will be unrealistic or will be be something which the law simply does not allow: but your goals must be communicated early on (understanding that they may evolve during the process) because they will guide how your attorney advises you to proceed.
Your attorney will ask a lot of questions of you during the first meeting. But you should not be afraid to ask your own questions. Sometimes the answers will not please you. But you should ask until you have answers which make sense to you. Family law can be confusing. Lawyers have extensive training in the law, and they must put that training to use to explain the law to you so that you understand.
Should you bring someone with you, particularly to that first meeting? Sometimes clients want to bring a friend or relative with them. A companion may offer moral support, or provide information the client may omit, or may simply be another set of ears listening to what is being said. But there are important considerations of confidentiality to consider if a third party participates in that meeting.
When you leave the first meeting, you should have an understanding of how the law will impact your situation, what legal options are available, approximately how long the legal process will take, a range of legal fees, and a sense of whether the attorney instills in you the trust and confidence to earn the right to represent you. Salvatore & Morton can help you to navigate this emotional and stressful time in your life. Give us a call.
Please note that the above is not intended as legal advice and is no substitute for consultation with an attorney.