When considering the prospect of a divorce, you need to know when it is time to talk to a divorce lawyer. The divorce process requires informed decision-making, as well as patience, compromise, and a clear understanding of the laws that apply. As a result, going through a divorce is not something you should try to handle on your own.
But, when is the right time to talk to a divorce lawyer? While there is no reason to consult an attorney too early, waiting until it is too late can prove costly. Here are our tips on when to talk to a divorce lawyer—along with some additional tips you can use to prepare for your initial consultation:
You Should Talk to a Lawyer if You are Considering a Divorce
While many spouses struggle with deciding when to contact a divorce lawyer, our belief is that you should talk to a lawyer as soon as you decide you are seriously considering a divorce. The reason for this is simple: There are several steps you need to take to prepare for the divorce process, and there are also several mistakes you need to make sure you avoid.
By speaking with a divorce lawyer early, you can ensure that you are making informed decisions, and you can avoid the uncertainty that often leads to mistakes. An experienced divorce lawyer will be able to answer all of your questions and provide you with a list of actionable steps you can take as you move forward.
You Should Talk to a Lawyer if Your Spouse has Filed for Divorce
If your spouse has already filed for divorce, you should speak with a lawyer promptly. While it doesn’t necessarily matter which spouse files first, once your spouse files, the clock starts ticking for your response. Once you meet with a divorce lawyer, your lawyer will be able to prepare your response on your behalf, and you will be able to make informed decisions based on your lawyer’s advice.
There are different ways to respond to a divorce petition, and how you should respond to your spouse’s petition depends on your individual circumstances. Is your spouse alleging marital fault? Can (and should) you allege marital fault? Are you most interested in seeking an amicable resolution? These are just a few examples of numerous questions that will help inform your response.
7 Tips for Preparing to Meet with an Attorney to Discuss Divorce
So, it’s time for you to talk to a divorce lawyer. What are your next steps? In addition to scheduling an initial consultation, we generally recommend that spouses:
1. Make Copies of Important Records
It’s a good idea to go ahead and make copies of your important records. While your lawyer won’t necessarily need these right away, he or she will need them eventually. If possible, make copies of your tax returns, property deeds and titles, loan documents, account statements, and any other property-related or financial records you may have.
2. Prepare a List of Assets
In Maryland, the general rule is that spouses must divide their “marital” assets, while each spouse’s “separate” assets are his or hers to keep. For now, you can start by preparing a list of assets to review with your attorney.
3. Prepare a List of Income Sources
In addition to preparing a list of assets, you should also prepare a list of your (and your spouse’s) income sources. This includes income from employment, businesses, side gigs, and investments.
4. Consider Your Options
Are you interested in co-parenting or bird’s nest custody? Does pursuing mediation or collaborative law make sense for you and your spouse? Are you interested in pursuing alimony? While you don’t need to answer these types of questions now, it is a good idea to start considering your options.
5. Start to Prioritize
Along with considering your options, you should also start to prioritize. Which marital assets are most important to you? Would you be willing to give up certain assets in order to obtain additional alimony (or avoid paying alimony)? Again, you don’t need the answers now, but it will be worthwhile to start framing your thoughts and expectations.
6. Write Down Any Important Details
If there are any specific issues you want to discuss with your divorce lawyer, be sure to write them down and bring your list with you. This will help make sure you get as much out of your initial consultation as possible.
7. Write Down a List of Questions
When it’s time to talk to a divorce lawyer, write down a list of questions. The divorce process is confusing and unfamiliar, and you should not hesitate to ask any questions you may have.
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With offices in Baltimore and Ocean City, we represent divorcing spouses throughout Maryland.
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If you have questions about the divorce process—or if you are ready to get started—you can call (410) 390-3101 or contact us online to schedule a confidential initial consultation.