“I’ve never done this before”: How to Get Through the Initial Consultation and Come Out Smarter and Well Prepared to Move Forward

Melody Z. RichardsonDivorce, Divorce Process, FAQs, Melody Richardson

Concerned female lawyer counseling senior client

You have been thinking about divorce for a long time. You have confided in your best friend that you are unhappy. You’ve spoken to your therapist about your concerns. Finally, you have screwed up the courage to make an appointment with a family law attorney to discuss how to end your marriage. And you are terrified. It has suddenly become much more real.

So many of the clients we have met with for the first time have said, “I’ve never done this before” at some point during our initial meeting. We understand what that really means is this is a big deal and as much as this may be what you really want, getting there involves a whole lot of things you have no control over and don’t know too much about. We get that and we get that it may be intimidating to meet with an attorney. There may even be some embarrassment that the marriage did not work out, for whatever reason.

Our goal, therefore, during the initial consultation, is to provide you with information and options. We will explain how the process works, what physical custody means, what legal custody means, what equitable division means, and how all of those legal terms are going to affect you and your family. We will discuss options about how to go about bringing your marriage to an end, preferably amicably, options about how to share parenting time, and options on how to make sure everyone gets what they need.

Our job during that first meeting is to not only provide you with information to help you make good decisions but also to manage your expectations. We are going to listen carefully to your situation and ask you questions about your goals. The attorneys at RBL Family Law are going to give you our opinion of a realistic outcome based upon our combined experience of over 100 years of practicing family law. Our attorneys have handled thousands of cases, and, while no two are alike, we can guide you through the process based upon that extensive experience. So even though you have never done this before, we have. That is why you need an attorney to represent you.

Divorce is difficult even when both spouses are in agreement that it is time to end the marriage. You got married hoping it would last forever, and that just does not seem possible anymore. At RBL Family Law, we want to help you get through one of the most stressful times of your life, without letting a judge make decisions for you that you must live with no matter how much you disagree with the outcome. Our family law attorneys want to empower you to have some control of the outcome. We will probably tell you things you don’t want to hear or that are not what your next-door neighbor’s cousin’s best friend said happened in her divorce.

During our initial consultation, we will ask you about your children, how your home is titled, what your income is, what your assets are, how much debt you have, and all kinds of very personal questions. Most importantly, we will ask you about your goals. After our discussion, done in the privacy of our office (or via Zoom these days) where everything is confidential, we will discuss options and scenarios that will work for you and your family.

Some questions you can ask during the initial consultation are:

  • How is child support calculated?
  • When is alimony appropriate?
  • What is a reasonable amount of alimony?
  • How long will alimony last?
  • What are some ways to share custody of our children so both parents get to see them?
  • How do we divide retirement accounts?
  • How do we divide equity?
  • Who is going to pay the credit card debt?
  • How do we divide unvested stock options?

After hearing “I’ve never done this before” at the beginning of the meeting, we are so gratified to hear “I feel so much better” at the end of the meeting. If you have been putting off making a call to a family law attorney even though you know your marriage is over, call one of our experienced attorneys at 404-888-3730 so you can feel better too.