Your first meeting with your family counsel isn’t just about relaying the facts of your divorce; it is more about interviewing the lawyer to see if they are a good fit for your case. This is also your opportunity to question the lawyers to assess their competency to provide you with excellent legal guidance. Lawyers typically charge by the hour, so you want to make sure you’re comfortable with their competencies and work style before you commit to paying their hourly rate.
From the start, a professional lawyer will lay out what you can expect in terms of communication, legal fees, and what their litigation strategy will be. At the end of your meeting, you should have a good understanding of how the proceedings will play out.
Prepare a written explanation of your circumstances
Divorce is a hard and emotional time. Telling a professional the circumstances of your divorce can bring up a lot of emotions which may cause you to forget important facts or simply become overwhelmed. We recommend carefully preparing a written statement, incorporating as much information as you think is important. Include any important dates or points you want to say. This will help you stay on track during the conversation, and it can also be handed to the lawyer for later use.
Each couple’s circumstances are different and it’s important that you disclose any and all elements of your separation that your lawyer should know. This means discussing decision-making arrangements, bank accounts, real estate, spousal or child support and anything else relevant to your circumstances.
Consider whether you are prepared to compromise
Every separation is going to require both parties to make some compromises. When you are up-front about your primary and secondary goals in respect to your separation, it will assist your lawyer in providing you with realistic advice and help with negotiations. If it’s most important for you to continue living in your matrimonial home or if you believe you require sole decision-making of the children – make sure to disclose your position at your consultation.
Bring supporting documents
We always say that it’s best to provide too much information than too little, and this goes hand-in-hand with your supporting documentation. The documents that are required depend on your individual circumstances. However, you can help your lawyer save time, which can inadvertently save you money by being prepared at your first consultation. This including having any and all documentation about your marriage and financial circumstances that you think could be of importance. This includes but is not limited to:
- Last three years of your Notice of Assessments and Income Tax Returns
- 3 up to date pay cheque’s.
- Marriage certificate
- Bank statements
- All credit card and loan statements (mortgage, car, student, business, etc)
- Marital property estimates
- Estimates of any other assets
- Documentation of work week schedules (for child custody cases)
- Prenuptial agreement
- Pre-arranged custody
- Any relevant court orders
Make a list of questions you want to ask
Preparing a list of questions that you would like to ask ahead of time will help you avoid forgetting them during your consultation. Think of questions you want to ask the lawyer about their work style, their experience, availability, and of course any questions about the divorce proceedings. Often, these consultations move quickly and can be overwhelming and having a written list will help keep you focused.
If you’re looking to book a confidential consultation with a family lawyer, contact Nikan Barari Family Law at (647) 483-2971.