Now that you have overcome the shock from hearing your spouse’s request for a divorce, you know you have to put your emotions aside and begin making some plans. Among the first decisions to make is who will be your legal representative. You likely obtained recommendations from friends and co-workers, and you may have researched the credentials and experience of your top choices before making your decision.
Choosing a divorce attorney is not always easy. You may be feeling emotionally vulnerable, and while you want to work with someone who will have appropriate compassion, you also know you need an experienced representative who will be objective and keep matters on track. Once you have found an attorney who fits your personality, the next step is to prepare for your initial consultation.
What to bring with you
Your first meeting with your attorney can cover a lot of ground if you arrive organized and ready. You will certainly have many questions, and it may be good to write them down so you will not have to call your lawyer between appointments.
During your first meeting, you will likely discuss your goals for property division and child custody. This should not be the first time you consider these goals, and your attorney will expect that you will bring with you lists of your expectations and non-negotiables. Some documentation will help your attorney get a clearer view of your situation. For example, you will want to bring along copies of the following information:
- The total amount of money you have in all your separate and joint accounts
- Estimated values of any real property you own
- Account information for investments, retirement and other plans for both you and your spouse
- A list of other assets such as cars, fine art, jewelry and housewares
- An inventory of digital assets like iTunes songs, airline miles, Bitcoin, online stores, blogs and others
- An accurate estimate of your combined incomes
- A list of your debts and expenses
With these factors in hand, the attorney will have a better understanding of how property division will look for you and where you and your spouse may be able to negotiate a fair separation of assets.
Your attorney will also give you an overview of Arizona laws regarding child custody and parenting plans. Most courts hope parents can work together to create a manageable plan, but your attorney can help make sure any plan you make with your spouse is respectful of your parental rights and protective of your child’s best interests.