The majority of people who are facing the end of their marriage will want to have a lawyer’s assistance. A lawyer is your guide to the divorce process and your advocate who is there to counsel you and to fight on your behalf. Here is what you can expect the very first time that you sit down with your lawyer.
Your first meeting with your family lawyer will revolve around your current situation. You may have already filed for divorce, or you may be considering doing so in the near future. Like anyone, you are looking for answers about both the short and long term. As a result, you will have both general and specific questions to ask.
The first thing to know about the meeting is that it goes better if you are prepared. Although your attorney will gather information over the time that you are working together, you should have certain key documents with you for the initial consultation, including your tax returns and, if possible, a list of your assets and debts, both separate and marital. You should also think about the questions that you want to ask, and you should write them down so that you can stay organized. Your lawyer will always be available to answer questions, but it helps to come ready to talk.
More than anything, your divorce lawyer is trying to learn your situation during the first meeting. Do not be surprised if he or she does not have the solution to every single one of your issues on the spot. It may take some time for your lawyer to learn the facts and to develop a legal strategy that could help you. In other words, you should have the appropriate expectations for your first meeting.
Prepare to be asked a lot of questions by your lawyer at your first meeting. The aim is not to interrogate you. They want to know your situation before giving you any legal advice. You can expect questions about your financial and family circumstances. You may be asked to start from the very beginning and work through your entire situation. Do not be afraid to answer all of your lawyer’s questions fully and truthfully. It is better to have an attorney who is fully informed about your case than one who is missing key information. This way, they can give you the strongest possible legal representation.
At the same time, your initial visit to your lawyer is not like getting called to the principal’s office. Your attorney is on your side. They are here to work for your legal interests and for the best legal outcome.
It is critical to be open with your lawyer. Do not worry that your family law attorney is judging you. Our lawyers operate in a judgment-free zone as our aim is to provide you with the strongest legal representation. Allow your attorney to get to know you as broadly as possible. Do not worry about whether he or she likes you or not.
Your initial meeting could cover some of the following situations:
You should also expect to meet with someone who will listen to you. While a divorce lawyer is not a therapist who will help with emotional issues, your attorney does want to hear what you have to say. They will want to get a sense of what you are facing and what is important to you, so that the legal advice is tailored specifically to you.
If you are worried about anyone else finding out about the contents of your discussion, you can rest assured that communications with your lawyer are privileged. Your lawyer is not allowed to reveal the contents of your conversation under nearly any circumstance. You have a near-absolute right to privilege and privacy in your conversation.
You will also be able to ask questions of your own. After all, one of the main reasons why you went to see an attorney was to get advice about your own situation. You will also want to know more about the person who will be representing you and how you work together. After all, you are placing quite a bit of trust in your divorce lawyer. Make sure to take advantage of this opportunity to find out what you need to know. You should leave this meeting with some sense of whether this is the right lawyer for you based on your interactions at the meeting.
Additionally, you should expect to go over how the representation will work. The lawyer will discuss things like fees and retainers. While he or she may give you a ballpark estimate of what to expect the divorce will cost, the number could easily change based on how the divorce unfolds. Your representation may also discuss the best way and the most ideal times to reach him or her and the methods that the two of you will use to communicate.
Finally, you can expect that your family law attorney will discuss the next steps in the process and how your divorce may unfold. They could talk about how to file for divorce and when you should do so. If your divorce is already underway, they will tell you what you need to do next in the short term. If anything, you will leave with a better understanding of the divorce process.
While you should not expect answers to every single question nor guarantees about your situation, you can plan to leave the meeting knowing more about what you should expect and the legal options that are available to you. The attorney should let you know how they see the process unfolding. Keep in mind that the first meeting with the lawyer is just the start of the process, and you should temper your expectations. However, the hope is that you could leave the office with some peace of mind knowing that someone is in your corner.
You should also not come expecting to get the exact answer that you want to hear. It is your attorney’s job to give you objective advice about your situation regardless of your feelings. He or she may tell you that you are facing a more difficult situation than you initially thought. Your attorney is not going to try to create unrealistic expectations. It is better to know the reality of your situation upfront than to be surprised in the future. Your attorney has an obligation to give you the best possible legal advice, even if it is not what you were expecting.
If you are going through a divorce in New Jersey and need legal help, contact a family lawyer at Lawrence Law today at (908) 645-1000. One of our divorce attorneys will have a conversation with you that could educate you on what you are facing and that will make you more knowledgeable about the process.