I Scheduled An Initial Consultation With a Matrimonial Lawyer In New York: What Should I Bring To The Meeting??? What Should I Expect???

Author: Michael L. Fried, Esq.

Contemplating a divorce, prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement, child custody, child support or order of protection proceeding is a difficult and emotional decision. In fact, several clients have told me that the mere act of picking up the telephone and scheduling the initial consultation was one of the hardest tasks they had to undertake. This article is intended to take away the fear of the unknown and educate you as to how to prepare for a consultation in a matrimonial or family court proceeding and what you can expect during this initial meeting. Once you have decided to schedule an appointment for a consultation with me, you should be aware of the following:

  1. Be prepared to spend at least an hour at the initial consultation. If you have children, please make child care arrangements so you can focus on the consultation.
  2. During the first half of the consultation, I will be asking you many questions concerning your income, assets, liabilities as well as the emotional and physical health of you, your spouse, and your children including the names of any prescription medications as well as the dosages taken by you, your spouse and/or your children. While you may consider these issues to be intrusive and none of my business, they are essential in order for me to provide you with the most meaningful advice possible. It is important to be open, honest and forthcoming with your answers to my questions. The information that you provide to me is confidential and will not be discussed with anyone outside of the office.
  3. Prior to arriving at my office, you should write down any questions that you might have for me. Often during a consultation, a prospective client will forget important issues that he or she wanted to ask prior to arriving at my office because they are nervous and stressed. The purpose of an initial consultation is to educate you about the law and answer any questions pertaining to the law as they relate to your specific situation. Remember, there are no "dumb" questions.
  4. To assist me in the consultation, you should bring copies of the following financial documents: Tax returns (at a minimum, the last year’s tax return and preferably three (3) years of tax returns), W-2 and/or 1099 statements for both you and your spouse, copies of a year’s worth of checking account statements (which include miniature copies of the front and back of the cancelled checks if possible) and credit card statements, balances of all accounts such as checking, savings, brokerage accounts, life insurance cash surrender statements, IRA, 401(K) and pension statements, mortgage and home equity line statements, real estate appraisals (if available).
  5. If you have been served or you have filed any legal document such as a summons for a divorce, a Family Court petition for custody, support, order of protection or you are seeking to enforce or modify a Judgment of Divorce, Stipulation of Settlement or Order, it is important that you bring to the initial consultation copies of any and all legal documents and provide me with the date of your next scheduled court appearance.
  6. The final and most important reminder is to take a deep breath and RELAX. This is an essential part of the process. You are going through the most traumatic and stressful part of your life. However, you are not alone. Once I am retained, your problems become my problems. We will work together towards getting you through this most difficult time in your life. If you believe that this experience is emotionally overwhelming and you need to seek professional help, I urge you to find a therapist or psychologist who can assist you. There is no shame in seeking the assistance of a mental health professional. We will work together as a team. Towards that end, I will need you to be emotionally strong to provide me with the information and documentation necessary to resolve your matter expeditiously.

We represent individuals in abusive and deteriorating marriages who need to move on with their lives...If you have questions that need answers about your particular matter herein in New York, we invite you to call our office to schedule an appointment for a consultation.