A contested divorce involves tactical warfare, and information is your lawyer’s ammunition. When you meet with a divorce attorney for the first time, he’ll want that ammunition so he can represent you to the best of his abilities if you end up hiring him. You’ll have a few questions for him as well, which he can’t answer until he knows the facts of your case.
Most divorce consultations start out with the basics: your name, your spouse’s name and everyone’s Social Security numbers. If you hire the lawyer to represent you, he will need this information for some of the divorce forms. The lawyer will want to know where your children have been living because this determines whether your state has jurisdiction to rule on custody issues.
Information About Your Marriage
Next, the attorney will ask about your relationship with your spouse. Is your divorce amicable? This might pave the way for an uncontested proceeding. If you’re alleging that marital misconduct is the cause of the breakup, he’ll want to know if you have evidence to back up your allegations. The LawInfo Legal Resource Library indicates that if custody is likely to be contested, a lawyer will ask for details about why you think your kids shouldn’t live with your spouse. If abuse is a factor, he might ask you to provide related medical or police reports once you decide to retain him. He’s also likely to ask if you and your spouse have discussed settlement terms. If so, this information gives your lawyer a glimpse into what your spouse might be inclined to fight for and what he’ll agree to without much fuss. Any divorce attorney will certainly want to know if you’ve entered into a prenuptial agreement, which makes the issue of property division pretty much a done deal, according to the legal website FindLaw.
Income and Assets
Property division is often a highly contentious part of divorce, so if you don’t have a prenup, expect the lawyer to have a lot of questions about both parties’ incomes and assets. He’ll get around to asking you for pay stubs if you hire him – both yours and your spouse’s – but initially, he’ll be looking for reasonable ballpark figures as to what you both earn. He’ll also eventually want to see tax returns. He’ll also ask when assets were purchased or acquired, according to the Law Firm of John F. Schaefer. This helps to determine whether assets are marital property, subject to division, or separate property, which isn’t typically shared in a divorce.
Debts and Liabilities
Divorce requires a division of the equity in your assets, not their overall value, so an attorney will also want to know about mortgages, auto loans and any other liens or encumbrances against your property. He’ll ask about unsecured debt, such as medical bills and credit card accounts — debts of the marriage must be divided along with the assets.