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Your First Visit to the Attorney's Office

Before you begin asking your questions about legal fees, child support, hidden assets or divorce mediation, you'll naturally spend the first few minutes in the lawyer's office in conversational pleasantries to break the ice. Just remember - one way or the other, the meter is running. Either you're paying for this time, or there's a firm limit to the time allowed for the interview.

Be sure to take along a written list of questions, and jot down his or her answers as you go through the list. Include such things as:

  • Can I get support money during the period of separation? (If you are not the primary wage earner, the answer is probably Yes.)

  • Alternately, must I pay support money during the period of separation? (If you are the primary earner, then probably Yes.)

  • If so, how soon can I expect to begin receiving (paying) support?

  • Will the support paid now affect the decision on the final settlement?

  • For how many months or years might the support payments continue after the divorce is final? (This should be clearly stated in the terms of the divorce, but a subsequent Motion for Modification may be filed with the Court if the financial situation changes substantially.)

  • After showing the attorney your basic Statement of Property, Personal Income Statement, Projected Personal Expense sheet, and, if applicable, information on custody and child support, ask for an estimate of how much the whole divorce process will cost.

  • How long should the process take?

If you leave the first meeting with feelings of trust and confidence in the attorney, by all means stay with him or her. On the other hand, if you experience discomfort and doubt, do some self-searching to find out why. It could be bad chemistry and a bad gut feeling about the lawyer, but it might also simply be your discomfort with the whole idea of moving toward divorce. (No matter how certain you are about the rightness of ending the marriage, it's extremely doubtful that you'll feel any degree of emotional comfort in the process.)

If you have trouble nailing down the source of your negative feelings, try talking them over with a counselor or friend. Sometimes simply talking our concerns out helps to clarify them.

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