If you’re nervous or anxious about your divorce consultation, you’re not alone. For most clients, their anxiety stems from the unknown or feeling unprepared. While you aren’t required to bring anything to your initial consultation, here are some tips for making the most of your meeting:
1. Be prepared to provide a short biography of yourself, your spouse, and your children, if any. This is the easy part, as this is information that you know by heart, such as names, dates of birth, address, date of marriage, education, and work history, including salary information. A divorce attorney will want to get a sense of who you and your spouse are and what you do.
2. Most of the consultation will likely be spent discussing your marital estate. Your marital estate consists of all assets and liabilities acquired between the date of marriage and date of separation. Assets include the following:
- Real estate – Types of real estate include your marital residence, vacation house, and rental/investment property. You’ll be asked how the property is titled, when it was purchased and for what price, and your opinion as to the current value. You’ll also be asked whether there is a mortgage and the current balance.
- Checking and savings accounts – You’ll be asked whose name(s) the account is in and the current balance.
- Retirement plans – Types of retirement plans include pensions, 401(k), IRAs, profit-sharing, etc. You’ll be asked if you and your husband have any retirement and whether you know the current value. If the plan was started prior the marriage, you’ll be asked whether you know what the value was at the time of marriage.
- Life insurance- You’ll be asked about the type of insurance (term vs. whole) and the face value and beneficiaries.
3. Your marital estate also includes any debt incurred by you and your spouse. Relevant marital debt includes the following:
- Mortgage/Home Equity Line of Credit – If there is a mortgage or HELOC on your house(s), then you will be asked if you know its current value.
- Credit cards – How many? Whose name? Current balances? What were they used for? These are some of the questions you might be asked.
You might be wondering if you need to bring anything to your first meeting. I typically tell my clients they don’t have to, since I’ll be gathering most of the information during the consultation. However, in advance of your meeting we will ask you to complete and submit an Intake Form which will assist us in providing advice for your specific issues. Also, if you don’t know any of the information discussed above, that’s okay! A lot of people don’t know the specifics of their marital estate, but your attorney will be able to obtain it on your behalf.
If you have questions about divorce speak with our experienced West Chester attorneys at Potts, Shoemaker & Grossman, LLC, where we are prepared to assist you in finding the best approach for your unique situation. To schedule a confidential consultation, contact us at (610) 840-2626.