HOW DO I PREPARE FOR AN INITIAL CONSULTATION?
The initial consultation is your opportunity to interview us and tell us your unique story. To get the most out of your consultation:
Prepare a write up or outline a summary of your facts.
Make a list of questions.
Prepare an informal list of assets, debts, income streams, and expenses.
Bring copies of your tax returns and other relevant financial documents.
Advise of all court dates and bring any pleadings related to upcoming court dates.
Choosing a family law attorney will be one of the most important decisions you make in your life. The initial consultation is an opportunity to interview the attorney, share information, learn about the process, and begin strategizing towards case resolution. You want to make sure your consultation is as productive and efficient as possible.
Below are some tips to prepare for the initial consultation:
1. The initial consultation is your opportunity to interview us and tell us your unique story
During our initial consultation, we'll ask a series of questions and listen to your unique story to evaluate your case and begin creating a custom strategy.
Our divorce clients include men and women of a variety of ages with mid-large estates. They're business owners, executives, doctors, lawyers, public figures, and stay-at-home parents. They have a variety of experiences, including amicable situations, and situations involving infidelity, domestic violence, or other issues.
They all share the same fundamental desire: to get through the storm intact. To finalize their divorces fairly and cost-efficiently. To achieve familial, financial, and emotional stability.
That said, not all family law attorneys are created equal and not every attorney will be the right fit for you.
When meeting with an attorney, take a close look at their demeanor. You're looking for a divorce lawyer to resolve disagreements you already have, not to pick more fights. You're looking for a divorce lawyer who can solve your problems, not create more problems.
When meeting with lawyers, carefully evaluate their temperaments. Look for someone calm, cool, and collected. You don't want to waste your money on ego wars and tactics that don't serve your goals. You want someone who can see beyond conflict. You want to get out of this mess as cost-efficiently as possible.
You also want someone who is prepared, thorough, and responsive. Ask about attorney preparation routines and ask about the firm's responsiveness policy. Our firm has a policy that all emails must be answered within a certain amount of time.
2. Prepare a write up or outline a summary of your facts
Prepare an outline, list, or summary of the facts in your case. Topics can include:
Child custody (including names and dates of birth of all minor children, any current custody arrangements or orders);
Date of and circumstances relating to separation;
Description of any domestic violence incidents, inclusive of dates;
Facts that support your contention that an asset or debt is separate property;
Facts relating to your or your ex's income;
Facts relating to the formation or growth of a business.
This is much faster than relaying this information verbally. You do not want to waste precious time on facts that you can relay in this manner. Also, this write up can become very useful and save a lot of attorney time when preparing documents for your case.
3. Make a list of questions
Start by reviewing our website. There's lots of great information about family law basics. This research will allow you to ask the best questions possible, maximizing efficiency during our consultation.
After doing some research, make a list of questions you might have. This will help guide our conversations and ensure that you leave feeling empowered and informed. Common questions include:
How is child custody determined?
How is spousal support determined?
How is child support determined?
What will happen to our home?
What will happen to our retirement accounts?
I contributed separate property to a marital asset - can I be reimbursed for that?
Who will be responsible for our outstanding debt?
We're firm believers in the old saying, "there is no such thing as a stupid question." If you had all of the answers, you wouldn't need our services, and well, we wouldn't have jobs. There are lots of misconceptions about divorce, child custody, and family law out there generally. We're here to answer your questions.
4. Prepare an informal list of asset, debts, income streams, and expenses
California law requires that in all divorces, each spouse must make a complete and honest financial disclosure to the other. This includes all income, expenses, assets, and debts. This is required even if you have nothing and are asking for nothing. You are also entitled to financial information in a child support dispute.
Prepare a list of assets, debts, income streams, and expenses for the consultation. This can be informal, even handwritten. This will help us understand aspects of your case that would be more time consuming to explain verbally. It will also help us efficiently draft documents.
Assets include real estate, bank accounts, retirement accounts, investment accounts, stocks, intellectual property like copyrights, business interests and partnerships, stocks, life insurance, real estate, vehicles, art, collectibles, antiques, and more.
Debts include mortgages, lines of credit, credit cards, auto loans, student loans, taxes due, and more.
Income streams include salary/wages, bonuses, investment income such as dividends/interest, rental income, trust income, self-employment income, and more.
Expenses relevant to family law matters include housing, utilities, healthcare, child care, groceries, eating out, clothing, education, entertainment, gifts, vacation, and more.
5. Bring copies of your tax returns and other relevant financial documents
Bring copies the last three years of your federal income tax return and your pay stubs for the preceding two months (if you receive pay stubs). Also consider bringing your most recent banking, credit card, investment account, and other financial statements.
6. Advise of all court dates and bring any pleadings related to upcoming court dates
If there are any court dates currently on calendar, make sure to advise of all dates and to bring any pleadings related to the upcoming hearing. If there is a court hearing on calendar, we will want to make sure to comply with all deadlines and be 100% prepared so the court can hear the best version of your facts possible.
9107 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 450
Beverly Hills, California 90210
We proudly serve Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, West Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Culver City, the South Bay, Glendale, Pasadena, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Encino and all of Los Angeles County.