Before the Initial Divorce Consultation

I handle a slew of client consultations where the person on the other side of the conference table from me is nervous, scared, and for the first time articulating out loud that they want a divorce. They have many questions to which there are no direct answers. My non-committal "it depends" does little to calm their fears. My personal approach to divorce practice is to cooperate when possibly to be prepared for total non-cooperation.

Here are some steps you can take before you reach this step to make the process smoother in preparing for separation and the first attorney meeting.

  • Make copies of all financial records. Bank statements, tax returns, paystubs, retirement/pension statements, credit card statements, insurance documents. It will save everyone much time and expense in having these documents up front.
  • Take a snapshot of your finances on the date of separation. Go online and print out your account balances on the day of separation. Also, run a credit report. It may be valuable to show what you had before you separate.
  • If you have children, do not unreasonably withhold visitation from your spouse. The parties ability to foster a parental relationship with the other parent is an important factor in determining permanent custody.
  • As hard as it may be, keep the lines of communication open and the discourse civil. Nothing increases attorney's fees quite like bickering for bickering's sake. The more you can agree on your own the lower your attorney's bill.
  • This may seem self-serving, but you are going to have to trust me on this one: get ye to an attorney ASAP. Initial consultations are not prohibitively expensive and almost every situation is different. This is not the time to rely on google or anecdotal stories to give you advice.

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In Virginia, a divorce may be granted on the no-fault grounds of living separate and apart without any cohabitation and without interruption for one year, or six months, if there are no children of the marriage.

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