Divorce is sure to be a stressful and emotional time for any person. It is during this period of stress and emotion that a divorcing party must pick an attorney to represent their interests. Although Maryland is following the national trend in that it is experiencing a greater rate of divorce than in decades past, the trend does not ensure that a particular party would be more familiar with the divorce process than a similarly-situated person from a decade ago.
That being the case, potential clients often have a host of questions before they consult a Maryland divorce attorney. Among these is, “What should I bring with me to my initial divorce consultation?” The answer may depend on the individual style of the attorney with whom you are having a consultation.
Some attorneys prefer to bring the client in for an initial consultation without the distraction of a box full of paperwork. They believe that an initial consultation should be a time in which the client expresses their situation and perspective entirely from their own memory. This can give the attorney a broad outline of the case so that when specific issues arise in the future, these issues are more readily understood in the global context of the case. There may be good reason for this approach. Remember, divorces are stressful and emotional. It may be therapeutic for the client to have a frank discussion with their attorney and to offload some of that stress and emotion, without feeling the need to push a series of papers across the desk. These types of attorneys also feel that the paperwork should not distract the client from a frank discussion of the attorney’s fee structure, including who is responsible for what, how much, and when. These types of attorneys insist that this leads to fewer billing mistakes and fee disputes.
On the other side of the coin, there are attorneys who much prefer to dive right into the specifics. These types of attorneys believe that it is more economical to the client if the client can provide specific documentation on the first visit. Whereas the first type of attorney would prefer only a briefing on the shared marital property, this second type of attorney would prefer to view a copy of the deed to the house and a title to the car, if applicable. This second type of attorney might also want to see a copy of the marriage certificate, prenuptial agreements, tax returns, bank account statements, credit card statements, car loan documents, and mortgage documents.
It is important to note that your attorney is sure to request copies of these documents at some point, whether it be at the first consultation or at a subsequent consultation. Whether you should bring them to the first consultation is a matter of your attorney’s preference. Most Maryland family law offices have attorneys of both types, and the type of attorney you would like to hire is up to you. In either case, make your preparations to track down these documents sooner rather than later.
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