A divorce initial consultation is very important.  Generally, it is the first time an attorney and a prospective client meet one another.  It is important for both parties to be prepared for the meeting and determine if a successful working relationship is possible.  Some clients find the initial consultation stressful, so I wanted to address the nature of an initial consultation with my firm.

What to Bring to the Divorce Initial Consultation?

There are certain intake procedures and forms that my firm utilizes prior to meeting with a client.  The more information I receive prior to the initial consultation, then the better prepared I can be to provide preliminary advice on how to proceed.  Although I am not formally retained until a retainer agreement is signed by both parties, I do like to provide clients with general information as well as more specific pieces of information such as likely alimony and child support ranges.  I often email the intake forms to prospective clients.  The Law Office of Carl A. Taylor III intake forms are also available on my website for PDF download.  (under main website navigation).

It is helpful if a prospective client can provide a copy of the filled-out intake form, along with tax returns, prior court orders, and any other relevant documentation prior to the initial consultation.  If that is not possible, it is helpful to arrive to the meeting 10-15 minutes early so I can review the information prior to the meeting.

What Types of Questions Will You Be Asked as the Divorce Initial Consultation?

Similar to most doctor’s offices, I like to begin with asking basic information such as a prospective client’s contact information, date of birth, date of marriage, etc.  Then, I generally will ask the prospective client why they are meeting with me.  It is important to air out the marital issues so that we can later focus on more technical information gathering.  Has the prospective client attempted marriage counseling?  Is their marriage salvageable?  Has their spouse already retained an attorney or filed formal divorce proceedings?  These are all important questions that will be asked.

From there, I will generally ask a series of questions in hopes of learning the parties’ financial situation.  New Jersey is a “no-fault” divorce state, so financial considerations are, along with child custody, the heart of New Jersey divorce law.  Some of the areas I will address with a client include:

  • Both parties income/employment.
  • The status of their children.
  • Possible custody issues.
  • Real property such as the marital home.
  • Bank accounts.
  • Investment accounts.
  • Retirement accounts or pensions.
  • College costs.
  • Premarital, gifted, personal injury, or inherited property.
  • Life insurance.
  • Health insurance.
  • Automobiles, vehicles, boats.
  • Stock options.
  • Businesses.
  • Profit sharing plans.
  • Loans/debts.

Once these important topics (and other such topics) are discussed, I will then be able to provide the potential client with some prospective on where their case may be heading.  I will discuss alternate dispute resolution options with the client. If litigation is the likely outcome, I will provide some insight into how the case will likely turn out.  I will also point prospective clients to my divorce information packet (available for free download on my website), which also explains the process.

Initial consultation end with a question/answer session and information on the next steps if a prospective client wishes to become a client.  Likely costs, attorneys fees, and the retainer amount will also be discussed at this time.

Conclusion

By focusing on the goals of the client and meshing those goals with the facts of the case and the relevant law, a tailored strategy can be crafted from early in a case to reach the desired outcome or goals.

If you wish to schedule an initial consultation with my firm, I welcome the opportunity to meet with you.

Your New Jersey Divorce Lawyer:

If you’re considering a New Jersey divorce or Family Law action contact me to discuss your options.  You can schedule an initial consultation by calling my office at 908-237-3096 or by scheduling your own divorce consultation online by clicking here.