The decision to get a divorce lawyer is one of the most important decisions you will ever make. A divorce impacts nearly every part of your life: your marriage, your children, your income, your savings, your house and all of your assets.
Therefore, it is important to educate yourself on the process, be informed and ready, when you interview a potential divorce lawyer.
1) Make a list of your wishes and objectives
Your Divorce Lawyer needs to know what your endgame is. That way, he can then reverse engineer a pathway to help you achieve your goals. For that to happen, you need to be very clear with your Divorce Lawyer as to what you wish to accomplish.
2) Make a list of your fears and concerns
Divorce is an extremely difficult moment in a person’s life. In a short window of time, many parts of your life will change. Your Divorce Lawyer is there to protect you and ensure that you achieve positive outcomes, while also avoiding negative outcomes. That is why your Divorce Lawyer needs to know what you are worried about so that he can prevent that outcome from happening.
3) Make a list: About your spouse
Make a list of what you think your spouse wants and what your response is. It will be very helpful if your Divorce Lawyer is aware of what your spouse is pursuing and why. This is critical information that can be used in the negotiation process.
4) Make a list: Willing to compromise
Make a list of the topics that you are willing to compromise on and what you are not willing to compromise on. Everybody has objectives that are either negotiable or nonnegotiable. Your Divorce Lawyer needs to know what you are willing to compromise on and what is nonnegotiable and why.
5) Make a list: Assets and debts
Make a list of all of the assets and debts that existed on both the date of marriage and the date of separation. In every divorce case, financial issues need to be resolved. For that reason, each spouse must complete a financial statement setting out all of the assets and debts. It is helpful if you bring a list of this to the first meeting with your Divorce Lawyer to discuss how and if they may be shared.
6) Collect the tax returns
Collect the tax returns for every year of marriage for you and your spouse. In almost all cases, the subject of support needs to be addressed. Support is mainly based on current and historical income. For that reason, your Divorce Lawyer will benefit from a complete digest of your income and your spouse’s income during marriage. That way, your Divorce Lawyer can give you a legal opinion on child support and spousal support.
7) Make a list of every expense
Make a list of every expense that you incur for the kids such as private school tuition, summer camp and sporting programs. According to Ontario law, these expenses will be proportionately shared in accordance with each parent’s income. In order for your Divorce Lawyer to be able to give you advice on this subject, he must know what those additional expenses are and explain to you how they will be shared.
8) Create a budget
Create a budget of your annual expenses. In some cases, such as with self-employed spouses, income and support cannot be decided based on stated income. In these cases, it is common to ascertain the spouses’ true income from sources other than tax returns. We often look at the family’s history of expenditures to ascertain income for the determination of support. This information is extremely helpful in negotiations, mediation and litigation.
9) Collect all bank accounts
Collect all bank accounts and investment statements for the date of marriage, date of separation and for 12 months before and after the date of separation. Before settling a divorce case, we need to verify each spouse’s assets and debts at the time of marriage and separation. Providing all required financial disclosures up front is the smartest way to expedite a divorce settlement.
10) Ask your trusted family and friends
Ask your trusted family and friends to list any questions they suggest you ask your Divorce Lawyer. Oftentimes, close family members and friends are familiar with your financial situation, needs, and fears. It is for that reason that I often invite fellow family members and close friends to participate in meetings with me and my client.Share this article on: