When you sit down with your attorney for the first time to discuss your divorce, preparing for the meeting is important. The initial consultation gives you a chance to tell your story, provide background on your marriage and get an important legal relationship off to a good start.
Marriage is a legal contract and dissolving that contract takes time and appropriately prepared legal documentation. In New York, divorce requires agreement or resolution of issues involving custody, support and parenting access to minor children, division of assets and spousal maintenance.
Making the decision to marry took time and effort. The divorce process also takes time and preparation. To help your attorney understand your circumstances, consider putting together a basic summary or gathering copies of the following:
- Income: Tax returns for the previous three to five years, proof of income of you and your spouse including paystubs for the past year, business or personal financial or profit and loss statements, documentation showing income from self-employment and evidence of all debt and liabilities
- Property: Deeds, mortgages, titles, real estate contracts and appraisals
- Accounts: Listing or statement of savings, checking, investment, pension and retirement accounts
- Estate planning: Trusts, wills, life insurance policies and related paperwork
You are not expected to muster every document needed for your divorce at your first meeting. While divorce is a common experience, it is experienced differently by each person. You may be filled with conflicting emotion as you prepare for your meeting and even as you talk to your new legal counsel.
When you meet with your lawyer for the first time, be prepared with your own questions, too. A well-chosen New York divorce attorney will prove a stalwart personal advocate and essential guide as you begin your journey through the divorce process and into the next phase of your life.
Jacqueline Newman joined Berkman Bottger Newman & Schein LLP in 1998 and is now the managing partner of the firm. Ms. Newman’s practice consists of litigation, collaborative law and mediation. She specializes in complex high net worth matrimonial cases and also in negotiating prenuptial agreements. Read more about Jacqueline Newman.