What To Expect During The Initial Meeting With a Divorce Lawyer


Most individuals dread the stage of going through a divorce and when the situation arises, they tend to feel nervous during the first meeting with a divorce lawyer. However, it is a necessity and so, you should go with a plan and know what to expect in regards to what you wish to accomplish during the initial visit.

It is not uncommon for emotions to run high during this period, and some people even bring a third party to listen, take note and offer support. It is therefore important to advise the attorney if you plan on doing this as there can be issues affecting the lawyer-client privilege. At the end of the day, the divorce legal process is more about business than emotions, but it can be hard to separate the two. The divorce attorney should be able to give you the resources to assist you with the emotional aspects while focusing on the family and financial issues. That said here are is what you can expect during the initial consultation with a divorce lawyer:


Most initial consultations take an average of 1 and a half hours. Most people stop absorbing information after this period and are usually emotionally exhausted. It is also worth noting that the best attorneys in family law offer a free initial consultation.

The Conversation

You are going to have a detailed conversation with the lawyer at www.deanhineslawyer.com. The attorney is primarily going to listen to you and ask questions to guide the conversation as well as get a clearer picture of what is going on as well as your primary goals and concerns. You will ideally have adequate time to ask any question you might have. It is advisable to list them down beforehand and do not be afraid to ask them even if they sound silly. Also, it is important to keep in mind that your divorce attorney may not have precise answers for some of your questions at this stage. It can be quite hard to predict how any given divorce will play out particularly in terms of cost and time. More often than not, these factors depend on the parties, the issues leading to divorce as well as how willing everyone is to compromise.

What Specific Things Will You Talk About?

Marital Assets Division

Determining how to divide assets that have been accumulated during the marriage period is a major part of any divorce. It starts by preparing a marital balance sheet which simply defines your financial assets as well as liabilities.

In most cases, debts and assets get divided equally and so, the attorney’s job is to ensure that the division is ideal for you. Keep in mind that some assets have a real immediate value which others could attract serious tax penalties if liquidated immediately. Having $200,000 in a savings account is not the same as having $200,000 in a retirement account.

Separate property are the assets that you or the spouse brought into the marriage or received as an inheritance or a gift from a third party. These types of assets aren’t part of the marital balance sheet and are usually not divided.

  1. Issues with Children

Where are the kids going to live and who will be responsible for the decisions regarding important things in their lives? Your divorce can advise you on these issues. If there are minors, this aspect can be hard to address as it can have lifelong implications.

  1. Alimony

There are usually not forms to determine the financial support for a spouse and the amount and the period is usually determined by negotiation. You divorce attorney should have several ideas, based on their experience and what you should expect.

  1. Child Custody

Your lawyer will utilize a child support worksheet in order to determine what the obligations are likely to be, of course, depending on your situation. This might not be absolute, but it will give you an idea of what you should expect. Child support is usually covered until the children graduate from high school and a parent isn’t compelled to cover child support once they turn 18 as well. 

Unmarried Parents

If you’re not married to your kids’ other parent, then the conversation will center around child support and custody. Most states do not allow alimony if the couple is unmarried but if you bought major assets together like property, vehicles, business, etc. that will have to be divided after the breakup.

What Papers Should You Present During the Consultation?

New Cases

If there is no pending hearing or court deadline, then there is no need for you to bring any papers during the first meeting. Some individuals feel more confident if they have a checklist to help them prepare for the consultations. Reputable lawyers nowadays have potential client questionnaires that outline all the factual information that you will discuss with them during the first meeting, if possible, ask them to mail it to you in advance.

Pending Cases

If you were served with court papers, like a Temporary Order of Protection or Petition for Marriage Dissolution, you will need to present those pleading to the lawyer as they will need to read them.

Other Documents You May Want to Present to your Lawyer Include:

Tax returns- You should present the most recent tax return you filed. If you filed separate returns from your spouse, ensure you bring your spouse’s latest one as well.

Self-employment Documents- If you or the spouse are self-employed, it is important to present as many documents as possible regarding the income and expenses, as well as business operations. Present a current balance sheet, profit and loss statement, etc.

Information Regarding your Spouse- It’s also beneficial to present information about the other party including their pay stubs, place of employment and any other relevant information regarding their personality.

Legal Procedure Options

Divorcing parties nowadays have the various options to resolve their options. You can take the case to court and have the judge make the decisions or you could take more control over the final outcome by taking the mediation route or collaborative procedure. Your lawyer will discuss with you the various legal options during the first meeting.


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