If you have reached the point where you are considering contacting a family law attorney, you are probably undergoing an emotional and stressful time in your life. Though it will be difficult, you will need to sort out your emotions from the facts in order to proceed because even in family law matters, the court will use a rational, business like approach. The advice and involvement of an experienced family law attorney can help.

Our job as your attorney is to use your knowledge of the facts to counsel you on the relevant issues of your case and to help you approach your situation with reason rather than emotion. Many people are surprised by what they learn during an initial consultation because they do not anticipate all the factors that may affect the likelihood of achieving a successful outcome. How could they? As experienced attorney, we are trained to apply the law to your particular situation and to work with you to get the best results possible.

After you decide to make an appointment for you initial consultation, create a list or a timetable of the events that caused you to turn to a lawyer for your family law case. During the discussion, you may have to address several upsetting issues and we may ask you some disturbing or pointed questions. You do not have to worry about shocking us – as experienced attorneys, we have probably already heard a similar story. It is important for you to be forthcoming and honest. If we do not know all the facts, we cannot be as effective as possible.

Give us a head start on the discovery process by preparing for your initial consultation. Gather as much factual information as possible. Remember, your communication with our office is privileged and protected by the attorney/client relationship. This is a lengthy list. Do your best to gather all of the following information but it is OK if you do not have it all together prior to our first meeting:
 
  1. Copies of your marriage and birth certificates.
  2. Date of marriage and timeline of events in marriage or relationship.
  3. Information about any prior marriage of either party, including a certified copy of the divorce decree.
  4. A copy of any domestic contracts (e.g., a prenuptial agreement).
  5. Information about any previous legal proceedings involving either party or involving any of the children.
  6. Dates and particulars about any previous separations, attempts at reconciliation, or counseling.
  7. The name of your employer and the other party’s employer, including dates of employment.
  8. Social security and driver’s license numbers.
  9. Copies of income tax returns for the last three years.
  10. Copies of both parties’ last three pay stubs (if you work outside the home).
  11. Note your spouse or other party’s income and other household income.
  12. Name of bank, saving and checking accounts numbers, amounts and whose names are on the accounts.
  13. Stocks, bonds and other investment information.
  14. The value of a pension, whose name it is in and when they began to contribute to the pension.
  15. Note other valuable items such as jewelry, artwork and other collections.
  16. Purchase date, purchase price, remaining balances and current value of real estate holdings.
  17. List all debts including amount owed, to whom, account numbers, when they were incurred, when due and whose name they are in.
  18. Education and employment background of both parties.
  19. Names and ages of children.
  20. Note any “skeletons” that may be an issue, such as drug/alcohol abuse, if either party ever committed a crime, domestic abuse, or sexual misconduct.

Remember, the information you provide to us is protected by the attorney/client privilege. It is imperative that you be fully honest with us so we can help you. It’s also important to ask questions. Make a list so you don’t forget to ask the things that really matter to you. The adage, “there are no dumb questions,” is true. We do not expect you to understand all of the issues or legal terms and will do our best to avoid complicated legal language. But if you do not know the meaning of a legal term or any legal procedure, ask for clarification. You need to understand everything that is going on so you can make the best decisions possible.