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The Importance of a Good Consultation

August 2, 2016

Contemplating a divorce can be very stressful.  The last thing most people want to do during one of the most difficult times of their lives is talk to a stranger, that they may have misconstrued, preconceived perceptions of, about the issues of their marriage and their finances.

However, a good consultation with an experienced matrimonial attorney will likely cut down on the stress.  Few people know much about divorces, other than what they see on TV or the stories they hear from their friends.  An experienced matrimonial attorney can lay out the facts and what is most important.

Consultations, for any type of legal issue for that matter, can serve multiple purposes. Some people are not in the position to move forward with a divorce but want to know their rights and if they or their spouse moved forward with a divorce, what impact that would have on their family, finances, and overall future. Many people consult with an attorney before their spouse knows that they are seriously considering a divorce.  Remember, your consulting attorney will keep everything you say, including your name and address, strictly confidential so you should not be afraid to speak candidly with them. 

Although it may feel unnecessary, it is important to consult with an attorney face-to-face.  A consultation does not obligate you to retain the attorney, or that you must move forward with the divorce or other proceeding.  In fact, your consulting attorney may ask you about counseling and may even provide you with a name or two of reputable counselors in your area.

Your consulting attorney may ask you to bring certain financial documents with you to your consultation including your most recent paystub and any financial statements you may have. There are statutes and case law that control how finances may be addressed in the context of a divorce and your income information will help your consulting attorney give you a better understanding of what you can reasonably expect moving forward.

Feeling comfortable and confident in your attorney and his and her competence from that initial meeting is important. It is always a good idea to meet with more than one attorney before retaining anyone.  Just like every case, every attorney is different.  Some attorneys, particularly solo practitioners, have limited time to devote to each client. Some clients have difficulty communicating with experienced attorneys about everyday issues.  Other attorneys are compassionate but may lack the experience and aggressiveness necessary for your particular case.  It is important to find an attorney that meets your needs and your personality.

It’s helpful to ask about worst-case/best-case scenarios. Some attorneys set unreasonable expectations at the first consultation, just to get the client to retain. Be careful of this. Just because a lawyer promises you the world does not mean they can deliver. So much depends on the unknown including your spouse’s position, his or her attorney, the reasonableness of your position, and the discretion of the court are just a few variable factors.

Follow the advice of your consulting attorney.  It is easy to let your emotions think for you, but remember, your consulting attorney knows all about the potential ramifications of your actions, as well as the benefits.

In the end, it is important to know that only you can decide whether or not to file for divorce (assuming your spouse has not filed).  Knowing your legal rights, potential obligations, procedure, and options can help you decide whether divorce is the best option and whether it is something you should move forward with now or at some point in the future.