How to Make Your First Meeting With A New Jersey Family Lawyer Count
March 8, 2019
BY: Amanda Yu
So, you’ve decided to retain a New Jersey Family Law Attorney. You’ve searched high and low for a family lawyer in new jersey with excellent credentials, a great reputation, and years of experience. What do you do now?
1. Write it down.
Sometimes putting everything down on paper can make things easier to explain to a stranger. Even though you have likely explained your situation to friends and family over and over, remember that your attorney is a stranger. He or she does not know the intricacies and nuances of your relationship with your spouse. Try your best to write down a narrative of your relationship: who you are, who your spouse is, who your children are, and the good and bad aspects of your relationship. How did your relationship begin? When did it start to go wrong? It may be helpful to write down some of the important details: date of marriage, names and dates of birth of your children, date of separation, job history, and parenting responsibilities. The more you write down and organize ahead of time, the less your attorney needs to take time asking questions to figure things out. Also, by writing it down, you are more likely to remember all of the details that you may forget when just having a casual conversation, which may be of critical importance to your case.
2. Identify what you are seeking.
What is your goal? If custody of your children is tantamount, then say so. If you are already in general agreement with your spouse about your children, what assets are you seeking to divide and how? If you are not currently living separate and apart, maybe you are looking to vacate the home as soon as possible, but need funds from your spouse to do so. Whatever your end goals, make sure those are made clear to your attorney so that a plan of action can be made. Certain things may be of more importance to you, while others can wait. In the same vein, some issues may be resolved simply by understanding the law behind the issue and, in fact, the Courts and legislature has already made the decision. Think about your “deal breakers,” and make those known to your family law attorney. Identify not only what you want, but how badly you want it.
3. Bring documentation.
If money is an issue in your divorce such as alimony, child support, or the division of assets or liabilities, bring your tax returns and some of your account statements with you. If you do not have access to these statements, make a list of all of the financial institutions you are aware of. If you and your spouse utilized an accountant to prepare your taxes, bring your accountant’s contact information with you. Check your credit score to make sure you know what debts are in your name and if those debts have been paid on time and in full. Understanding the marital estate is crucial: it gives your family attorney an understanding of what is at stake. If you are completely unaware of what you and your spouse own and owe, estimate your monthly expenses to the best of your ability: How often do you go out to dinner and what is your average bill? How many times a month do you fill up your car with gas? How much do you pay for your child’s school tuition and activities? Thinking about these questions can give you a rough idea of how much your family pays for things, which should be in the same ballpark of how much income your family earns.
Equally as important as giving us information: don’t be afraid to ask questions of us! It is our job as your family attorneys to give you the best legal advice that we can with the information that we are given. By asking us your questions frankly and candidly, you may inspire us to attack a problem from a different angle. The more we know and understand about your marriage, the better we can advise you .
If you’re in a position where you need to hire a New Jersey family law attorney, please consider reaching out to us here at Lesnevich, Marzano-Lesnevich, O’Cathain & O’Cathain, LLC. You may learn more about our Family Law Department.
And make sure you use these three tips to make your first meeting count!