What Issues Should You Discuss With Your Divorce Lawyer?
By Susan Sherry
Accepting and concluding that your marriage has ended or is coming to an end can be very distressing and quite complicated emotionally, legally and financially. Therefore, a healthy and informative attorney-client relationship would be very helpful in as far as making informed decisions is concerned.
For an attorney-client meeting or relationship to be productive, the concerned parties or party must ensure that they ask the right questions and that they openly discuss with the attorney all the information required to proceed with a case.
You should never let fear engulf you in as much as sharing information with your lawyer is concerned because all information you disclose to your attorney is kept confidential. Being upfront and truthful helps your divorce lawyer to better understand your legal issues, and it also gives you and your divorce lawyer an edge with regard to securing your short and long-term goals and interests.
Always keep in mind that a divorce case can be very overwhelming and that it is okay to get angry, frustrated, or cry. Recognizing that such emotions are normal before you meet your lawyer will help the meeting proceed smoothly for you.
Having said that, the following are some of the areas that you could focus on during your meeting with your divorce lawyer:
1. Child Custody
An ending marriage can be very contentious especially when children are involved. During your meeting, ensure that you disclose to your lawyer any relevant information regarding your kids and any future plans that you have for them. Some of the issues worth discussing include:
· Your children’s or child’s education status and plans for educating him or her through college or university.
· How the fee will be paid. Commitment should be made on how the fees will be paid.
· The children’s relationship with each parent
· History of juvenile delinquency
· Visitation with non-custodial parent
· Religious upbringing of the child
· Child support and custody
· The mental and physical health of both parents
· Work obligations of both parents
· Willingness to support a child if custody is lost
· Past cases of neglecting, abusing or violence by one or both parents
· Number of children to be taken in custody
2. How Marital Property Will be Divided?
In order to aid your divorce attorney in advising you well on property sharing, you need to know what property you and your spouse hold together, as well as property that you hold individually. You also need to know what division you would want during divorce settlement. However, some courts will normally divide the property equally, but brainstorming before meeting your attorney would go a long way in making the process easy.
3. Spousal Support
Of critical importance is the question whether you will need to pay spousal support. Once the property has been distributed, the next thing an attorney does is to determine if a spouse has the ability to support himself or herself with the shared property or his or her current level of income. Where one couple has no ability to sustain him or herself, the other party has to pay what most courts refer to as maintenance. Factors that determine if maintenance is granted include the level of education of the spouse seeking maintenance, the duration of the marriage, and if the spouse is staying home to take care of the kids.
4. Who is responsible for child support expenses?
After a divorce, both parents are legally expected to financially support their children until the children are old enough to care for themselves. The right to receive support belongs to the child and not the custodial parent. How child support is calculated depends on your place of residence. It would be important to note that calculation of child support normally takes into account the incomes of both parents, as well as the parenting time allocated to both parents. So, it would be critical to have relative incomes of both parties when meeting your attorney.
5. A list of documents you need to collect
Ensure that you carry all the documents that would help your divorce attorney in making quick decisions regarding your divorce case. Such documents would include bank statements, tax returns, mortgage documents, title deeds, utility bills, insurance policies, and any other documents that would be relevant to the case.
The more information you disclose to your divorce lawyer during your first meeting, the greater your chances of having a happy ending. However, whether you win or lose largely depends on how thorough you are with compiling facts, putting your documents together, and laying out your case.