We know that hiring a New Jersey divorce lawyer is a big commitment. That’s one of the reasons our Freehold family law office offers free initial consultations. This initial meeting allows us to determine whether we can help a prospective client achieve what they’re after. It’s also a chance for them to decide whether they can hire us with confidence. That’s why it’s important for everyone to arrive as prepared as possible.
These initial consultation meetings usually run anywhere from about 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the complexity of the case. We’ll want to hear the details of your situation in your own words and review the documents you’ve submitted. From there, we can offer you insight into how we think your case will go, some options you may have and a basic strategy of how we could help. Then you get to decide how you want to proceed.
As a prospective client, you want to make the most of this time and have as many of your questions answered as possible. To do that, you should come prepared. Here, we offer a general guideline of what to bring.
- A List of Marital Assets and Debts
One of the primary issues in most divorce cases is how to equitably divide marital property, per N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23.1. The very first step to that is knowing exactly what you have and what you owe. Assets and debts that are acquired during the marriage – either jointly or by one party (other than a gift or inheritance to one spouse) – are considered part of the marital estate. It doesn’t matter who owns it or who has the title to it or whose name it’s in: If it was acquired during marriage, bring a record of it.
To get you started, some relevant items include:
- Bank accounts
- Pay stubs
- Tax records
- Vehicles (including motorcycles, boats, etc.)
- Savings accounts
- Retirement accounts
This will give the divorce lawyer an idea of what’s at stake. It will also allow them to contemplate any thorny issues that could arise during mediation, settlement negotiations or litigation. It may also give them a good sense of what you can expect to receive or pay in terms of child support or alimony.
- Legal Documents
Legal documents that may be pertinent in an initial divorce attorney consultation include:
- Prenuptial agreements
- Postnuptial agreements
- Social Security cards and passports of you and your children
- Birth certificates of children
- Records from any previous legal proceeding that involved you, your spouse and/or children
- Separation agreements
Some of these items are just for the sake of clearly establishing the basics. But others, like prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, can have a significant impact on how your case is going to go. Your attorney will want to carefully review those records before giving you any advice on what’s next.
Also, if you have any potentially incriminating evidence of you or your spouse, your divorce lawyer needs to know about it. That could include records of money spent on affairs or a substance abuse or gambling problem or anything else you think would be relevant for your attorney to know. Note that while most New Jersey divorces are filed under the umbrella of “no-fault,” use of marital assets for things like these might impact equitable distribution of assets/debts.
- A List of Questions
You should come prepared with a list of questions about how the process will work, how you can make the divorce less expensive or less time-consuming, how responsive the attorney will be, what your expectations should be, what steps you should take after the meeting and how the attorney will be compensated for their time.
The divorce lawyer may not be able to answer every single one of these questions in great detail, but the more information you provide them, the better chance you have of walking away with a clearer sense of the next step.
Contact the Freehold divorce attorneys at Rozin-Golinder Law LLC by calling (732) 810-0034.