The initial consultation with a divorce lawyer is an important opportunity to learn your legal rights and options surrounding divorce. It’s also a chance to familiarize yourself with your attorney, and confirm that he/she understands your needs and priorities.
Below is a comprehensive list of information that will help you get the most value possible out of a first consultation.
If you don’t have access to all this paperwork, don’t panic! Do the best you can, and we can figure out the rest during our initial meeting.
Copies of Existing Marriage and Divorce Paperwork
- Prenuptial agreement
- Divorce Complaint (aka. your “divorce papers”) if you have already been served
- Domestic incident reports
- Any existing court orders
Timeline of Important Events
- List of important dates, including: name changes, marriage, children’s birthdays, date of separation, dates of major events and/or instances of abuse or adultery
- Relevant photos, videos, invoices, police reports, or correspondence supporting claims of abuse or adultery, if applicable
Copies of Financial and Legal Paperwork
- Federal, state, and local tax returns (preferably from the last three years)
- Business tax returns, if applicable
- Bank and credit card statements
- Pay stubs
- Mortgage and property tax statements
- Investment and retirement account statements
- Recurring invoices and tuition payments
- Insurance policy statements
- Estate planning paperwork, including: wills, living wills, power of attorney, etc.
List of Household Assets and Debts
- Property and car titles
- List of outstanding loans and debts
- List of significant household assets, including: cars, antiques, art, jewelry, technology, fashion, tool equipment, safety deposit boxes, etc.
List of Questions
- Do you exclusively practice family law?
- What is your fee structure/retainer costs?
- Other personal concerns regarding your situation
Above all, be prepared to bring honesty. We know that divorce is an emotional trauma, and discussing the details of past events and future options can be difficult.
The right divorce lawyer will listen to your concerns from a place of understanding, and accept your goals without judgment. The more information you can provide, the more likely it will be to get the divorce settlement you deserve.