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The Process of Getting a Divorce Started

Picking a Divorce Attorney

Picking a divorce attorney is similar to picking a business partner. Your divorce attorney will be someone who you are going to spend a significant amount of time with. You are going to invest a great deal of emotional energy in this working relationship. A lot of personal information will be shared with the attorney. You want to be certain at the very beginning, you can have a good working relationship with not only that attorney, but all the people working in that law firm.

I think intuition, for me, plays a big role when I am meeting with a prospective new client. If I can understand and relate to a potential new client, it is very helpful. If the potential new client and I are able to establish a baseline relationship at the consultation, then it seems easier for that person to share the personal information and his or her hopes and expectations with me. It is easier for me to identify what is important. Establishing trust in the beginning is important.  I try to get across that I can be trusted, and that you can trust that I care about what you are saying.  I will be honest about what the law provides, and how I can represent you through the process.

I have found that most people in the consultation have a lot of emotional information that they want to share. At the initial consultation I try to assess first, what legal relief you will need, and second, what I can do to facilitate this for you. Sometimes there is frustration because a person’s expectations about results and his or her desired timeline are not realistic with our justice system. However, I find that honestly discussing the divorce process and the stages of a divorce lawsuit are important.

I have found that some attorneys do not listen to their client or understand the client’s desires. It appears that some attorneys just want to sell themselves instead of assessing a person’s lawsuit –  a “one size fits all divorce.” That is a “service” that some attorneys provide. However, that is not something we do. I want to take the time to know what you want and expect from the process. I want to counsel you about what the law provides. I want to help you establish a level of trust in the beginning.

Preparing for the First Meeting

The first meeting sets the stage for a good outcome in your divorce proceeding. Prior to the first meeting you need to gather any documents that represent the material aspects of your estate. Mortgages, credit card statements, the latest bank statement. Any investment accounts, if there’s retirement. What I need initially is what the estate consists of generally.

If there are children, I need their names, birthdates, and an overview of what the children’s daily routine.

If there are any agreements between the two parties, shared together through text messages or emails, I would like those. If there are any problems with mental health, substance abuse, or history with law enforcement, I want information about that.  Finally, if there happens to be any “juicy evidence,” pictures or something of that nature, we can review and discuss that.

The First Meeting

When you first come to my office, I like to discuss where you are emotionally and financially in the divorce process and your expectations. Are you seeking a divorce now or gathering information? Once we’ve determined where you are in the process, then I begin advising you.

If you are just seeking information about a Divorce, I can help provide you with that information. We will talk in general terms about what your options are going forward. We will review the law. We can discuss your facts.  It is also important to review all options available, like how is a collaborative divorce different than a traditional divorce. We will discuss mediation and litigation

If you are ready to get a divorce, or if you have been served with divorce pleadings, I begin by discussing your marital estate.  I want to know what property and debts you have. I want to identify all of the assets and identify the debts. What is the community property? Do you have separate property? Are there any businesses in addition to the individual?

Then, I segue into the family. Most of my consultations deal with the family on an emotional level. Are there are children involved? I want to get a good idea of your thoughts about how divorce will or is affecting the family. Do you have any concerns about the divorce process and your family? Are there any agreements already established? Anything that you and your spouse have already talked about, or talked through.

Finally, I start homing in on your expectations for the divorce process and your expectations of me as the attorney in your divorce case. If those expectations seem to be a little unrealistic, then we start talking about very generally, the law, the presumptions, and then possible outcomes.

If you are facing the Reality of Divorce, contact an experienced Corsicana Family Law Attorney.

Call Sarah Keathley at Keathley and Keathley at 903-872-4244.