Preparing to Meet With Your Divorce Lawyer
How to Make the Meeting Effective and Focused on Your Goals
The difficulty of the divorce process is daunting for almost everyone who goes through it. The emotional pain of the split, coupled with the legal and financial issues that often must be resolved, create considerable challenges for both heart and mind.
Working with a good lawyer, however, can ease the strain immeasurably. Other professionals may be involved; accountants, financial planners, marital therapists, and others can all play useful roles. But it is your attorney who can help you design a legal strategy intended to accomplish your most important goals.
For that reason, your first meeting with your attorney is an excellent opportunity to start taking the positive steps that will lead you into a new life after divorce. This article discusses things you can do and think about to enable your lawyer to hit the ground running on your behalf.
Clear Goals and Realistic Expectations
In The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen F. Covey speaks of “beginning with the end in mind.” You have to clarify your goals about what you want. Only then, once you have that clarity, does it make sense to develop a strategy to achieve those goals.
Where do you envision your life going, after the divorce? The time to start thinking this through is now. For example, if your first priority is your children, you will want to communicate to your attorney that their best interests should be paramount to resolving child custody matters.
The form those best interests will take depends on your specific circumstances – and you should be realistic about what is achievable. If you have begun to despise your spouse, but he or she is not abusive to the children, you shouldn’t necessarily count on getting sole custody.
Gathering Financial Information
Before your first meeting with your lawyer, it can be useful to start gathering the financial information you will need for the property division part of the divorce. This can include compiling lists of assets, writing down account numbers, and so on.
Sam Siemon, a Georgia divorce attorney, says that these financial preparations are helpful but not essential. He points out that the information can still be obtained through discovery as the case progresses. It is much more important, in the first meeting, to do a good job of setting the expectations for the case and identifying specific achievable goals.
A very high percentage of Georgia divorce cases settle before actually going to trial. But it is still important to prepare the case thoroughly, to be prepared to litigate from a position of strength. Keep in mind, as well, that although there is no mandatory mediation in Georgia, individual courts may require it in a given case, especially if children are involved.
Preparing the case often includes engaging the input of other professionals, such as financial planners. If you suspect that your spouse is hiding assets, it may be necessary to hire a forensic accountant to track those assets down. Your attorney will help you determine exactly what needs to be done.
Creating a New Life
Find some calm. Engage in self-reflection. Create a vision of what you want your life to be after the divorce. Talk to an attorney – and don’t give up hope. A new life is waiting for you, a life in which the present problems will no longer plague you. Let your attorney help you come once again to pleasant places.