Before you begin a consultation with a divorce lawyer you may be thinking not only what questions to ask the attorney, but what questions the attorney may ask you. It is natural to feel nervous or anxious heading into your initial consultation. The purpose of this article is to help you anticipate what questions you may be asked by the divorce attorney so you don’t draw a blank and can be better prepared for the initial meeting or divorce consultation.
Generally speaking, an experienced divorce lawyer will provide you a lot of information during the initial consultation but should also be receiving important information from you in order to help you achieve your goals and have a successful outcome for your particular situation, whether it be a divorce, custody modification, or another family law related matter. Quite frankly, if the attorney you are meeting with does not ask questions about you or cover many (if not all) of the topics below, then that should be a red flag that perhaps you need to interview another attorney.
During the initial consultation, a divorce lawyer’s questions will likely include:
What is Your Current Living Situation?
Some people physically separate before they decide to file for divorce while others are still living together. Others have nesting arrangements while some people have one spouse who is coming and going. There are many permutations of the current living situation, but the experienced divorce lawyer will want to understand the current living situation and whether it is working (or not) for you. Also the lawyer will want to know if you are renting, if you own, and what it currently costs. Further, if you own, they will want to know how the house is titled (are you both on title and if not jointly titled then how) and whether or not you are both on the mortgage. If there is a mortgage or other debt, they will likely want to know the outstanding amounts. Don’t worry if you don’t know or don’t have that information at your fingertips, but if you do know, that would be helpful.
Do either of you have separate property or a claim to separate property?
Not all property is necessarily marital, and while you may not know from the outset what the values may be, you should be prepared to discuss marital vs. separate property with the divorce attorney. If you don’t understand these concepts or have no idea what is separate versus marital property, the divorce attorney should be able to explain the concepts to you in the initial consultation.
Are Minor Children Involved?
Child custody and child support issues are central to any divorce. The divorce lawyer should discuss with you how child support is determined, the Georgia court factors for custody, and the difference between the different types of custody and custodial arrangements. Also, the lawyer should cover what legal and physical custody actually means.
What Are Your Must-Haves and Goals?
When your attorney knows precisely what your priorities are, it will make it significantly easier for him or her to focus on what’s important for your long term goals and how to prepare a strategy to help you achieve those goals. For example, if your main goal is to have primary custody of your children and stay in the marital home, your lawyer needs to know that very early on in the process. If you want to relocate with the children out of Georgia or Atlanta, for example, you need to bring that up with your lawyer as soon as possible.
Other questions to be prepared for include versions of the following:
What Caused Your Divorce?
How did we get here?
Do you plan to stay in Georgia?
What do you earn?
What does your spouse earn?
Are you concerned for your safety?
Do you, your spouse, or your children have any health issues or special needs?
Does your spouse (or you) have any substance abuse or addiction issues?
Are there any business issues or family owned businesses to value?
Do you have any recent appraisals for any property?
Do you want to stay in the house?
Do you want to leave the house?
Do you have any recordings?
Has your spouse recorded you?
What are your concerns?
Does your spouse have a lawyer?
Has anything been filed yet?
Have you been served with anything yet?
Are you concerned about conduct (affairs) in this divorce (whether it be you or your spouse or both)?
Are there any acts of family violence?
Is there a prenuptial agreement?
Is there a postnuptial agreement?
Have you or your spouse been married before?
Do you have children or does your spouse have children from any other relationships?
Do you, your spouse, or your children have a therapist?
Do you want alimony?
Are you concerned about paying alimony?
Is alimony an issue?
Does your extended family live in Georgia?
How old are your children?
Are there any witnesses you think would be important or who can support what you’re telling me?
While our divorce law firm’s attorneys practice in Georgia, the information from this article shouldn’t differ too drastically from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Hopefully, the information here will give you a sense for some of the questions that may come up in your initial consultation from the attorney. If we can help you with your divorce or family law situation, please don’t hesitate to reach out.