An experienced attorney is trained to apply the law to the facts of your particular situation, and to work with you to get the best results possible. If you have reached the point where you are considering contacting a family law attorney, the next step will be to prepare for your initial consultation. After you have made an appointment for your initial consultation, create a list and/or timetable of the significant events in your family law case.
In preparing for your initial consultation, gather as much information and/or documentation as possible to provide to your attorney. In order to assist your attorney, do your best to gather the following information:
- Copies of your marriage and birth certificates.
- Date of marriage, and timeline of events in marriage.
- Education and employment background of both parties.
- Names and ages of children.
- A copy of any domestic contracts which may exist (i.e. a prenuptial agreement).
- Information about any previous legal proceedings between the spouses, or involving any of the children.
- Dates and particulars about any previous separations, attempts at reconciliation, or marriage counseling.
- The name of your employer, and your spouse’s employer, including dates of employment.
- Social security numbers and driver’s license numbers for yourself, your spouse, and your children.
- Copies of your (single or joint) income tax returns for the last (3) three years.
- Copies of your last three (3) pay stubs, if you work outside the home.
- Your spouse’s income, and other household income.
- Any and all banking information including the name of the bank, saving and checking account numbers, account balances, and the names on the account(s).
- Stocks, bonds, and other investment information.
- The nature and value of any retirement and pension accounts, including whose name each account is in, and the date contributions to any such accounts began.
- An itemization of valuable personal property, such as jewelry, artwork, antiques, and other valuable collections.
- Information concerning any and all real estate owned or acquired during the marriage, including, but not limited to, the purchase date, purchase price, remaining balance on any mortgage(s) on the property, and the current value of any real estate holdings.
- A comprehensive list of all debts, including the amount owed, to whom, account numbers, when any such debts were incurred, and whose name they are in.
- Any facts which may be significant to your case, such as drug/alcohol abuse, if either party every committed a crime, domestic abuse, or sexual misconduct.
When discussing the facts of your case with your attorney, it is imperative for you to be forthcoming and honest. If your attorney doesn’t know all the facts of your case, he or she will not be able to be as effective as possible when representing you. The other important thing to keep in mind in preparing to meet with your attorney is to make a list of questions, so you do not forget to ask those questions that really matter to you. During the consultation, if you do not understand anything that it being discussed, it is important to ask the attorney for clarification, or further explanation. It is important for you to understand everything that is going on in your case, so that you can make the best decisions possible.