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How to Prepare for your First Meeting with a Family Law Attorney

Divorce-Lawyer-and-couple-01-24-121So, you’re meeting with a family law attorney for the first time and you want to make sure you’re prepared.  How do you do this?  Tip number 1, 2, & 3: narrow down your issues!

You might be startled to find that when it comes to going through a divorce, there are only 3 major issues when it comes to any family law case:

  1. Equitable Distribution (property/assets)
  2. Alimony
  3. Child custody and/or child support.

It is important to narrow down the issues in your case so that your attorney can properly manage your case and focus in on what needs to be done to make sure your needs are being handled properly.

Equitable Distribution

If you know you and your spouse have a lot of property and assets that will need to be divided, come prepared. You should bring documents that show how much you owe on your mortgage when you and your spouse separated.  You should also have an idea of how much money is in your bank accounts (checking, savings, money market, etc.), brokerage accounts, investment accounts, 401Ks, pension plans, etc. All of these things fall under equitable distribution and, depending on how long you were married, may be vital to your case.

When it comes to dividing property and assets there are two important dates: (1) the date of marriage—this is important because anything purchased after this date (or anything contributed to retirement accounts, investment accounts, etc.) will be considered marital property; and (2) the date of separation—this is important because the date of separation marks the point in time when martial property ceases.

Alimony

The most important thing to understand about alimony is that there is no calculator to tell you how much you will be awarded or how much you will have to pay; it all depends. Two important factors come into play when computing alimony: (1) whether there is a supporting spouse and a dependent spouse; and (2) if there is a need. Before coming to  your consultation, think about your situation and run the numbers to see if alimony is an option for you.

Child Custody/Child Support

Child custody and child support are extremely important, so be sure to start thinking about how you want to co-parent with your spouse before coming into a consultation.  Talk with your spouse to try and come up with a plan that will work for both of you as well as your children.

In order to have a productive consultation and to get the biggest bang for your buck, spend some time thinking about these 3 areas and have a game plan in mind as to what you would like to see happen before you come in for a consultation.

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