The Initial Lawyer/Client Divorce Conference
Your first consultation with a lawyer is about exchanging information and obtaining advise. You should have a clear idea of the information and advice you want from the lawyer to make the most use of the conference.
For what reasons do people seek an initial consultation with a lawyer about a divorce?
Most people seeking a consultation do not intend to initiate a divorce immediately, or have not yet been served with divorce papers. All initial inquiries, however, have a common element: at least one of the parties believes the marriage is not going well.
The usual first question is: “What are my rights, or my obligations, if there is a divorce?” This is the right question.A divorce is a new and strange place. You are rightfully concerned about the future of the children and your financial future if there is a divorce. You should be seeking an evaluation of your situation, that is, a projection of the likely outcome in regard to the children and finances in the event of a divorce.
What subjects should be covered in the initial consultation?
If children are involved, they are the first consideration both financially and in terms of how parenting time and parenting responsibility (major decision making) are allocated. Contested cases regarding parental time and parental responsibility are not common — but they do happen. There is also the matter of the amount of child support. The next financial issue is whether there will be maintenance (alimony). The third area on which you need advice is regarding the laws relating to division of assets.
There are other areas, in divorce cases, such as:
- Allocation of parental time and responsibility
- Relocation of children outside of certain areas within Illinois or out of state relocation
- The obligation for post-high school education of children
- Sometimes the subject of domestic violence must be discussed
Will the first conference address collaborative divorce versus traditional adversarial divorce?
If this is an initial divorce, there is no history of domestic violence, and traditional “adversarial lawyers” have not already filed an appearance, etc., your lawyer should discuss options regarding how to obtain a divorce including the pros and cons of the collaborative divorce option. In cases where the parties can work together, collaborative divorce can often be a less expensive and more respectful process than traditional adversarial divorce. Ask your lawyer at the initial interview to discuss the pros and cons about collaborative divorce and whether it is “right for you.”
Will the lawyer give me accurate and precise advice?
Lawyers with experience in divorce cases should be able to provide knowledgeable advice on all the above subjects.