Many people feel that they have taken the first step towards a new life when they schedule their first meeting with their family law attorney. It can be a nerve-wracking experience and someone may feel nervous at the onset of a divorce or custody case. Television shows and movies play up the “drama” of contested courtroom battles. Sometimes these fictional stories mimic reality, but the vast majority of cases can be settled relatively amicably. Regardless of a case’s path, your first meeting with your family law attorney is important. At the first meeting, you and your attorney will discuss your goals for the case. You should spend some time before the meeting thinking about your goals. It is helpful to make a list and bring it to your meeting so you do not forget to tell your attorney any important points. Your attorney can also help you develop your goals after you are more informed about the law and your situation. One good way to save money in your case is to determine your goals early in your case. Of course, sometimes clients need to change goals as a result of new information or evolving circumstances.
In a divorce or custody action, your financial information will be very important. You should save your earnings statements/pay stubs, financial statements, such as credit card statements, bank records, mortgage statements, etc. These documents are often requested during a divorce or custody case, and you can save time and money if you are able to produce them right away, rather than having to search high and low for a document you might have thrown away. It could be helpful to you and your attorney if you bring these to your first meeting. Being organized in your divorce or custody case is essential. If you are not a naturally organized person, now is the time to develop good organization skills. Your attorney should keep track of deadlines, but it is also your responsibility to be aware of what you need to do in order to comply with these deadlines. You will likely be informed in writing of any deadlines you need to meet. You will receive copies of important documents and letters, and you should have a secure place to store these documents. Consider buying an “accordion” folder with many pockets that will be solely devoted to your divorce or custody case. You should have this folder by the first meeting with your attorney because he or she will likely give you papers to take home that day. You should also maintain either a paper or electronic calendar so you can keep track of court dates and deadlines. Being involved in litigation is not a passive experience. Your attorney is there to help you through the process, and you must also do what you can to help your case succeed by carefully considering your attorneys’ advice.