The initial conference with your Woodstock family lawyer is an important first step in the ongoing working relationship.


The Basic Facts

Be prepared to tell your attorney the basic factual information about the existing situation (date of marriage, names and birth dates of children, etc.).  He or she will want to know the cause of the divorce and what evidence you can provide to support your position in the event that a trial is necessary.  The evidence may be in the form of specific examples of events that led to your position or the testimony of witnesses with knowledge of the facts.


Facts That Might Hurt Your Case

Relate anything that may reflect negatively on your case.  Some of this information may be embarrassing or information that you may be reluctant to share.  Your attorney needs to be prepared for and not surprised by anything.  He or she will need to know any facts that your spouse may attempt to use against you.  Knowing this information in advance will often limit or eliminate any damage that it may cause.


Providing Information to Your Attorney

While you may not need the documentation or a witness list at the initial conference, you should be able acquire this information as soon as it is requested.  Your situation may require prompt action by your attorney who may schedule a court hearing which will allow the judge to determine certain issues on a temporary basis pending the final resolution of the case.   Providing that information in a neat and organized manner will make your attorney’s work easier and reduce the billable time that is needed on your case.


Bringing Moral Support to the Conference

At the initial conference, you may want to bring a family member or friend with you to act as another set of eyes and ears or for support.  This conference is often the time when the prospect of divorce turns into a reality.  It can often be an emotional moment and there is nothing wrong with having someone there to support you.

Just as you should be prepared for the initial conference with your attorney, your attorney should be ready to address your questions and concerns.


Child Custody and Visitation          

If there are children involved, ask your attorney how custody and visitation is determined.  If you have any special circumstances that might affect this, it’s best to share these as soon as possible.  He or she needs to talk with you about “the right of first refusal.”  The purpose of this provision is to clarify the fact that when one spouse cannot exercise his or her parenting time for an extended period, the other spouse may keep the children in order to prevent a third party (friend, neighbor, babysitter, etc.) from being the appointed caregiver.


Child Support

One obvious topic for this conversation is child support.  The three key factors are the income of the parents, payment for child care and payment for the children’s health insurance.  Have your attorney discuss these factors as well as other factors that may have an impact on the support amount.  Some of these other factors may be appropriate for your situation and may cause an adjustment to the calculation of child support.  Once each side provides the other with his or her financial information, the support calculation and any adjustments can to be made.


Trial by Judge or Jury

 Most cases never reach the stage where an actual trial is necessary; they are settled before that time.  If a trial is necessary, the outcome will be determined by either a judge acting alone or by a jury and your attorney should discuss his or her thoughts on this matter.   The choice of trial by the judge or a jury will most often affect the cost to you.  The choice often affects the timetable, as well.  This part of the initial conversation should not be lengthy, but will help your overall understanding of what is ahead of you.


Legal Fees

During this time, it is appropriate to fully discuss the fees and how they will be determined.  The attorney cannot tell you exactly how much your case will cost as there are many factors such as the attitude and cooperation of your spouse or your spouse’s attorney.  There may be expenses associated with the case in addition to attorney’s fees for which you will be responsible such as an initial filing fee, the possibility of deposition transcripts, a mediator and the electronic filing of documents.  These are all matters that your attorney should be able to discuss.


As you can tell, this first conference is important for both you and your attorney.  A wide ranging discussion will get your working relationship with your lawyer off to an excellent start. To schedule your initial conference with a Woodstock family lawyer, call the Stetler Law Group at (815) 529-4554.