What to Expect from Your First Meeting with a Divorce Lawyer
If you are considering separating from your spouse or have already begun the process of separation, you likely have many questions. There is so much at stake, and decisions made at the end of a marriage can impact every aspect of life in the future. The best first step in navigating the complex and emotional process of divorce is to talk to a family lawyer as soon as possible. An experienced divorce lawyer will answer your family law questions, explain your options, and ensure your rights and interests are protected. Taking the important step of reaching out to a divorce lawyer can feel daunting – for many people, it is the first time they have had to hire a lawyer. Here is what to expect from your first meeting with a divorce lawyer.
Arrange your first meeting with a divorce lawyer
Ask family and friends for recommendations and do an internet search to find an experienced divorce lawyer in your area. Once you have found a lawyer with expertise in family law issues such as spousal support, child support, property division, and parenting arrangements, reach out to arrange your first meeting. Many divorce lawyers (including Prince George lawyer Dick Byl) offer a free 30-minute initial consultation to discuss your situation, learn about your options, and outline a plan for moving forward. This is an excellent, no-obligation opportunity for you to determine if the lawyer is the right fit for your needs, but also for you to gain a better understanding of family law in BC and the issues that will need to be resolved.
Prepare for your first meeting with a divorce lawyer
When you contact the law firm to arrange your initial meeting, you will likely be given a list of documents and information to gather in advance of the meeting. For example, you should expect that you will be asked to gather:
- Marriage contracts such as a prenuptial agreement or cohabitation agreement.
- Copies of any existing court orders (e.g. restraining orders; orders with respect to child custody and access).
- A timeline of important events (e.g., date of marriage, children’s dates of birth, when property was purchased, date of separation).
- Financial information with respect to income (e.g., recent pay stubs or income tax returns), property and debt accumulated before or during the relationship, and/or business interests (e.g., if you and your spouse own a business together).
To make the most of your time with the divorce lawyer and ensure that important issues are not overlooked, it is also highly recommended that you write down the list of questions you want to ask. It is also an excellent idea to write down your list of goals: What do you hope to achieve throughout the process of divorce? What does the best (and worst) case resolution look like to you? Put some thought into the ideal outcome in advance of your initial meeting with the divorce lawyer, so that you can discuss whether your goals are reasonable and how to achieve them.
At the first meeting with a divorce lawyer
The initial meeting is essentially a back-and-forth information exchange. You will explain your situation, the lawyer will ask you questions to get a better understanding of the issues, and you will get to ask questions about your rights and options. You should expect that you will be asked for information about your marriage and your children (if you have any), as well as questions about sensitive topics such as whether there is any emotional or physical abuse in the relationship. What you say to the lawyer in that meeting is confidential, so you should be honest and not withhold information that might be relevant to your family law case. Ask questions about the lawyer’s fees and the expected timeline for resolving your case. At the end of the meeting, consider whether you feel confident in the lawyer’s knowledge and skills and comfortable working with that lawyer going forward. A good divorce lawyer will put you at ease, really listen to what you are saying, and take the time to answer your questions.
After your first meeting with a divorce lawyer
The next steps will depend on your short-term and long-term needs and the issues that are at stake. There are a range of options, including litigation (in other words, starting court proceedings), mediation, arbitration, or negotiating a separation agreement. BC law offers many options for resolving family law disputes, and there are advantages and disadvantages of each. You should leave the initial meeting with an understanding of your options and how a divorce lawyer can help you achieve an effective resolution.
If you are going through a divorce, get advice from an experienced Prince George lawyer
The process of separation and divorce can be emotionally difficult and raises many complicated issues. You should protect yourself by having the services of a qualified family lawyer. Prince George’s Dick Byl Law Corporation provides trusted legal advice and handles all aspects of family law. We offer flexible legal consultation, customized solutions and work diligently to ensure that our clients receive a fair outcome. Call us today at 250-564-3400 or toll-free at 1-800-835-0088 or use our eForm to get in touch with our Prince George lawyer.