Know your finances before that first meeting:

  1. Bring with you rental information or taxes, and insurance on a house if you own. Know what the utility bills are and any other bills like cable, telephone, and cell phones. It would be good to bring copies of these bills if you have them.
  2. Know the balances of all joint and/or separate checking accounts and savings accounts and if you have stocks, life insurance, money market funds or bond accounts.
  3. Know how much you spend on food a month.
  4. Know what it cost to take care of any children of the marriage: medical insurance, medical bills and prescriptions a month; dental insurance and dental bills; school tuition is there is any; haircuts and any other personal items that you pay for with respect to the children.

You will most probably be asked to fill out paperwork about these items for your attorney and the court to get a clear idea of household finances.

Bring with you any pertinent paperwork: prenuptial agreement and/or any paperwork you may have been served or any previous court proceedings involving you or your spouse.

Understand hiring a lawyer is a financial commitment to the best possible outcome in your divorce and to work for the best interest of the children. So be prepared that your attorney will ask you for a retainer to get started and know that a lot of his/her work will be done upfront and this retainer is to cover his/her time to do that work.

Additionally if there can be some agreement between you and your spouse or your respective attorneys on your behalf, most retainers will cover you up to mediation. However, if the proceedings are or become highly contested and additional hearings or a trial is required, you will be asked for additional funds to cover those expenses.