Many attorneys prefer to give tailored advice during the first meeting with a prospective client. This requires you to be prepared for that first meeting.
If your prospective attorney has a website, study the materials regarding divorce on that website. Our firm, found at NSSSB@com, contains information about divorce, child custody, child support, parenting time, property and spousal support. We also describe the different processes by which people resolve their divorce. It can serve as a good preparatory resource that will help you understand more before the meeting about the topics you will be discussing. You can think about how these issues apply to your situation and prepare more specific questions. Having a more solid background will hopefully permit you to retain more of the information the attorney will provide. It will also permit you to more accurately judge the knowledgeability of that attorney and how well he can respond to your most important concerns.
We advise prospective clients to bring with them:
2 years of income tax returns, including W-2's, 1099's, and all schedules
Recent pay stubs if either party has had a change in the compensation scheme
Recent bank and investment account statements
Recent retirement statements
Recent credit card statements
Recent mortgage and home equity loan statements
What should you do if you do not have access to such materials? Bring what you can and discuss with the attorney how best to access the remaining materials. It is a good idea to bring a list of items that you do know of, consisting of assets and debts. They don't have to be up-to-the-minute, but provide a general idea of what property you possess.
Some clients report that their spouse takes the position that the family financial records belong to that spouse. If the records represent property that the two of you have received during the marriage, such as wages, retirement accounts, savings, even if only one spouse worked outside the home to earn the money for such accounts, the law considers such money or accounts to marital. If you signed income tax returns, you are equally liable for the information contained in the returns. You have a right to see them and to have a copy. If you have access to the information, make a copy of the records for yourself and bring them to the meeting with the attorney.
Even if you were not curious about ending the marriage, no spouse should be in the dark about what assets and debt the couple has. If your spouse were to become incapacitated or died, you would have to know this information. Not knowing what you have should not be an impediment to learning what options you have.
Make a list of questions. You can Google such lists and pick the information that applies to your case.
With some advanced preparation, you will receive answers to the many questions that you have and a more complete understanding regarding your options for the future. You can also make an informed decision regarding whether the attorney you are interviewing is a good fit for you and your situation.