What to Expect
The end of your marriage and the beginning of the divorce process can be a scary and confusing time. Spouses contemplating separation may wonder how they should proceed. Often, it can help to meet with a lawyer who can provide you with information regarding your situation.
Goals of the Meeting
Our goals in an initial meeting are to gather information from you, to get a solid understanding of your issues, and to provide you with enough information for the both of us to determine whether you need a lawyer and what your next steps might be.
Once we has outlined the goals of the initial consultation, both of us, together, will go over your information. We will generally ask you about your own goals and expectations, so we can understand your position and tailor our approach as much as possible. Once we have a firm grasp on the situation, we will outline the issues we sees as relevant in your case, and address any concerns you have mentioned. At this stage, we generally will not have enough information to give you specific advice. Rather, we will outline what we see as the long-term legal issues, and a rough plan to deal with these issues.
We will break down the legal issues at hand and explain how the law applies in your case. Based on the facts of your case and your goals, we will then describe the ways in which you may proceed. This may include working towards a settlement agreement, or in certain cases, getting a court order. In some instances it may appear that your partnership, although experiencing serious relationship discord, may not truly be ready for separation. We will likely ask whether you and your spouse have sought out counseling and if not, whether you think that may be an option. We may also discuss potential process options, including mediation, collaborative family law or arbitration, depending on the facts of your case.
Once we have outlined and explained the legal issues in your case, we will discuss potential next steps. We will also allow you the opportunity to ask any questions not yet addressed in the meeting. We will then discuss different retainer agreements depending on the complexity of the case, and inform you of our hourly rates.
At the conclusion of the meeting, you may retain us or choose to think about it further and not retain us at that time.
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Information to Bring
On the day of your appointment, you will be asked to fill out an information form which provides us with the information necessary to offer you informed and sound advice. To make the most of your initial consultation, it is helpful if you are able to gather the following information, prior to the meeting:
- Contact information for both you and your spouse
- Date of marriage/cohabitation/separation
- The existence of any previous spouses and the name of these spouses
- The existence of any orders/agreements with respect to your matter
- The occupation and income of both you and your spouse
- The date of prior divorces/divorce certificates
- The names and birthdates of any children from the current or prior relationships or any other dependents
- The existence of any marriage/cohabitation contracts (oral or written)
- The approximate value of the matrimonial home, the names on title, and any debts secured against the home/encumbrances (mortgages, liens, etc.) on the home
- The value of the mortgage against the matrimonial home
- The value and titleholders of any other major assets (such as vehicles, RESPs, pensions, life insurance)
- Debts owed both jointly or individually by either you or your spouse
- Whether either spouse received an inheritance, substantial gift (from a non-spouse), the amount of the gift, or is owed any other money personally
- If known, the assets and debts of each spouse on the date of marriage