If you’re planning to meet with a divorce lawyer for the first time – or with your current one after an extended break – things might be a bit different than expected. During the pandemic, the business community has been very agile in addressing circumstances that can change quickly, sometimes overnight, and law firms are no different.
As you contemplate that first meeting this year, there are steps you can take to gather your thoughts, help you communicate efficiently, and answer any questions your lawyer has for you. You may also need to make small adjustments to the way you communicate with your attorney, including whether to meet in person at all.
Your Meeting Might Be Virtual
While an in-person meeting is certainly possible, contact your lawyer as your date approaches for possible updates. The circumstances surrounding the coronavirus pandemic appear to be ever-changing. If you’re nervous about communicating virtually, ask your lawyer what kind of preparation will help make the meeting go as smoothly as possible.
Two means of communication are increasingly common in the legal community:
- Video meetings. Chances are you’ve had one or two video meetings in the past couple of years. Your new lawyer might prefer to meet virtually using a secure video conferencing application, particularly if other participants will need to jump in the meeting.
- Email and file-sharing. These days, documents are often scanned or photographed and then shared with attorneys digitally. Granted, an email is not a meeting, and there may still be issues to discuss regarding these items. However, submitting financial documents will be necessary at some point so issues like the division of property can be addressed. If an in-person meeting isn’t possible, email and file-sharing applications like Dropbox and Google Drive will make it easy to share important information with your lawyer.
You May Have to Practice Social Distancing in Person
Even if you meet in person, things might be slightly different than you would have imagined a few years ago. Health concerns related to the coronavirus have forced some lawyers to make changes in how they interact with clients, and that extends to in-person meetings. For instance, a handshake might not be as customary as in previous meetings. Plan to give your lawyer a little extra space. He or she might still be practicing social distancing as the Center for Disease Control (CDC) suggests.
Attorneys have also been more flexible in terms of where they meet with clients. A meeting that is outdoors or in a similarly ventilated area makes the virus much less transmissible, and therefore might be preferable to a traditional meeting location.
Basic Steps to Help Your Prepare to Meet Your Attorney
Logistics aside, the same preparation is still necessary any time you plan to meet with an attorney, especially when introducing your case. Here are some ways to simplify the process:
- Make a list of questions. Divorce cases are complex. There’s nothing more frustrating than realizing you forgot to ask an important question. Bringing a list of questions will help you gather your thoughts so you’re able to communicate the main issues to your lawyer.
- Clarify your concerns. Are you concerned about receiving temporary child support or spousal maintenance? Is it necessary to freeze any shared accounts? A good family attorney will be able to walk you through the details so you know what to expect in the road ahead.
- Prepare to present financial information. Do you have access to financial records? At some point, you’ll likely need to present copies of such items as tax returns, W-2’s, and bank account and credit card statements.
- Ask what other documentation to provide. Your lawyer will likely expect certain paperwork from you. Find out what you should bring with you or submit in advance.
- Look for compatibility. When shopping for a good family law attorney, ask about their experience, years in practice, how they charge and how much time would be dedicated to your case. The first meeting is also an opportunity to get to know the person. You’ll want to work with someone who makes you feel comfortable. After all, an open flow of communication will be necessary throughout your divorce case.
Divorce can be stressful, but meeting your lawyer doesn’t have to be. When in doubt, be open with any questions you have regarding what is expected of you and what you can do to improve your chances of a positive outcome.