This will depend on what’s happening in the divorce case. In some cases, divorce papers have already been filed, while in other cases, the spouses have already talked about divorce and pledged to use a collaborative divorce process, rather than all out “litigation” (meaning fighting it out in court). Finally, some clients are facing an emergency - their spouse may be draining bank accounts in anticipation of the divorce, or they may be the victim of domestic violence and need immediate protection from a court. Your circumstances will dictate what is discussed and what actions are taken as a result of the first meeting.
Typically though, a client comes in with general questions about an impending or recently-filed divorce, and our office will review the various divorce processes that are available (collaborative law, mediation and litigation) and describe the steps for each.
In addition, our attorney's will likely ask a lot of questions. It’s important to try to get to know the you as a person and learn as much as possible about your spouse and children (if any). Our attorneys will try to gain a good understanding of your psychological and financial situation in order to recommend any referrals, if necessary, to psychotherapists, divorce coaches, estate attorneys and/or financial planners for specialized advice.
Our office works closely with other professionals to make sure all of our clients’ divorce-related questions are answered appropriately. Remember, our attorneys are not and cannot act as a tax advisor or a psychologist, for example, so it’s essential that we afford our client's the opportunity to hire the right professionals to be meet each of our client's individual needs.
REVIEW RELEVANT DIVORCE-RELATED ISSUES
It's impossible to predict exactly what will "happen" in a divorce, but it’s best to address all the major issues that may come up, such as
- custody of any minor children
- child support
- alimony – whether it should be paid and if so, how much and for how long, and
- division of property and debts.
At the end of the first meeting, our potential clients, generally leave with homework which includes learning as much as possible about the couple’s finances, in terms of assets, liabilities and ongoing expenses. In many marriages, only one spouse is in charge of the finances. However, before a divorce can be resolved, both spouses need to have a complete understanding of the couple's incomes, assets and debts. If you can provide a lot of detail about your finances at the first meeting, the meeting will often be much more productive.
Is the Meeting Confidential?
Yes. Sometimes, spouses aren’t completely sure that they want a divorce, but want to know what they can expect if they go forward. All attorney-client communications are protected, and our client's and potential client’s right to privacy is absolute, so our divorce clients shouldn’t have to worry about their spouses finding out.
It’s important that any potential client leave their first meeting with us feeling they’ve been heard and understood, and that we are tuned in to their specific needs. They should also view us as someone who is experienced, competent and accessible - someone who can guide them through the stressful times which may be ahead.