- What are the reasons for the divorce?
- Whether there is provable fault by either party
- What the child-rearing has been and what are likely custody outcomes
- What the finances are: how would assets be divided, how would each person survive in the event of a divorce
- What the client is hoping to achieve in the long-term
What can the client do to facilitate the best possible initial assessment?
- Court Documents: If there has been a court filing, the client must bring previously filed documents. The last order entered by a court is an absolute must if the client is seeking post-divorce advice. Certainly, if a client has recently been sued, the client must bring the suit and the summons served upon them and be prepared to say exactly when the papers were handed to them.
- Financial documents:
(Note: the idea is to provide a basic understanding of the finances. Detail will be developed later)
- Financial statements given by either party to lenders if you have them
- basic financial statements prepared by either party
- the latest pay stub for both parties if you have them
- the latest statements for savings, stock and pension accounts if you have them (Note: the attorney will be interested in a basic idea of what was acquired during the marriage versus what was acquired before the marriage and what was received by gift during the marriage.)
- Tax returns for the last three years if you have them
- a social security earnings history if you have one
- Basic Timeline of Events: (Too much detail would not be useful in an initial assessment)
- Proof of Fault: such as telephone records, copies from Facebook, letters, recordings, pictures, cards, etc, pictures of bruises, doctor bills from abuse, etc.
- Payment: Oftentimes it is important to protect against the other party knowing about the appointment, so make arrangements to pay by a method the other spouse will not be able to detect, such as cash or cashiers check or checking account to which the other spouse does not have access.