Going through a divorce can be an extremely overwhelming and exhausting process. It is important to have an attorney to assist you throughout the process and provide you with support and advice along the way.
There are many ways you can prepare for a divorce. The first and most important step is to consult with an attorney. Even if you ultimately want to represent yourself in court, it is essential that you at least understand your legal rights and obligations tailored to your situation. Every single divorce is different and depends on your circumstances. The result of a friend or family member’s divorce shouldn’t govern your expectations – the advice of a divorce lawyer should.
New Jersey family law is very complex and ever-changing. When looking for an attorney, it is essential that you find a lawyer who dedicates his/her practice solely (or at least primarily) to New Jersey family and matrimonial law. Look at it this way – would you trust a dentist to give you advice about whether you should have brain surgery? Of course not! Both are doctors, but only a specialist can give you the most trustworthy, accurate and essential advice.
Once you pick the attorney and firm, you must set up an initial consultation. The initial consultation typically lasts for one hour. During your consultation, you will be provided with the information necessary for you to determine whether you want to obtain a divorce and how to proceed with the divorce process. You will also be informed of your possible rights and/or obligations.
It is very important that you feel a “connection” with your attorney during your initial consultation. The attorney you retain will be the one guiding you through a very difficult and trying time. You must be able to trust your attorney and work well with him/her.
In order to make the most out of your consultation, here are some suggestions:
1. Bring copies of your 3 most recent years of tax returns, W-2s, 1099s, and/ or K-1s. Also bring copies of your three most recent pay stubs. This will help the attorney better understand your finances, and provide you with more tailored advice regarding your financial rights and obligations such as alimony and child support.
2. Prepare a list of all your assets and liabilities (i.e. debts) prior to your initial consultation.
3, Prepare a list of questions you want the attorney to answer. Many of these questions may be answered throughout the consultation, but you will feel more relaxed and prepared if you have your own list of questions.
4. Be honest. There is a reason the attorney is asking you certain questions. I know some of the information requested is personal, but the information is important. The advice the attorney gives you is based on the information you provide. You will not receive accurate advice if you do not provide accurate information.
5. At Ruvolo Law Group, we provide you with a very brief questionnaire prior to your initial consultation. It is helpful to us if complete this form. This questionnaire will assist the attorney in better understanding your case and providing you with advice.
6. Have an open mind. During your consultation, you will be provided with the strengths and weaknesses of your case. A good attorney will not you advice based on what the potential client wants to hear. That would be doing you a disservice. You should be provided with the good, the bad, and the ugly facts of your case.
You should walk away from your initial consultation feeling informed and more comfortable with the divorce process. It is not unusual to feel overwhelmed by the amount of information you learned. You will walk out feeling empowered with information to help you make a decision that is right for you and, if applicable, your children.
At Ruvolo Law Group, our consultations are very thorough and in-depth. Your case will be analyzed with painstaking detail. You won’t walk out of our office with only general information about the divorce process. Rather, you will be equipped with detailed, advice tailored to your situation. The better you prepare for the initial consultation, the more confident you will feel in deciding the next chapter of your life.