Preparation for Initial Consultation
Our office is in Rancho Bernardo in North County in San Diego. We offer a free consultation in our office or telephonically for thirty minutes. We urge all who can come to our office to do so. As an attorney is a personal service, you need to meet your attorney in person [if at all possible] so that you can see if the attorney and you can work together. In addition, the professionalism of the office is an important consideration as are the number of staff and their demeanor. The attorney, at the initial consultation, should discuss strategies and techniques based on their experience, education and training to try and protect your legal rights and to try and obtain your legal goals.
It is important for you to consider what your top goals are for your case. The attorney can then give an frank and honest opinion as to the realistic expectations for your individual facts and circumstances. While the law which applies is the same to all the facts of each case are unique. Our suggestion is to write down your top five goals in preparation for your initial consultation with the attorney.
If you have minor children, it is important to consider whether or not you should stay or vacate the residence. Some parties can live together during their divorce or legal separation and some cannot. In either event, the legal standard the Judge uses is the “best interests” of the child[ren] and this includes stability, bonding, frequent and continuing contact; cooperation or non cooperation in the parenting plan; abuse; molest; neglect and many other factors. For many of our clients, the most important goal in their case concerns custody and visitation and their parenting plan.
If you make more or less money than your spouse does and have done so as an average for the past twelve months, then spousal support may be an issue depending on the duration of your marriage. The normal rule is that the duration for spousal support is one half of the duration of the marriage for marriages less than ten years and then a termination of the Court’s jurisdiction. For marriages more than ten years, the Court’s are not setting a termination date initially and reserve on jurisdiction. If your goal is to not pay spousal support for an indefinite period of time, then the duration of the marriage becomes significant. If you have minor children, then child support will be an issue. The Court uses the Disso Master program in the family law courts in San Diego, Chula Vista, El Cajon and Vista to calculate the child support and this is by state law. At your initial consultation, our attorney will calculate the spousal and/or child support with this same computer program. This will give you a realistic expectation of the support.
If you have assets and/or debts, then the division of these will need to occur. For the initial consultation, it is a good idea to bring the following: list of each asset and when acquired; list of each debt and when acquired; value of each asset when it was acquired and now; all bills which are part of your total monthly expenses; documents relating to any business interests; copies of all deeds, mortgages, revocable living trusts, estate plans, IRA’s, KEOGH’s, vested and non vested stock options, bank accounts, brokerage accounts, pensions, retirements, profit sharing, tax returns and any other accounts you have access to. In many cases, some or all of these are not available at the initial consultation and this is understandable. In many cases, one spouse does not know what the true assets and valuations are. The attorney, at the initial consultation, can discuss strategies to discover these such as review of the Schedule of Assets and Debts of the other spouse, written discovery, request for production of documents, request for admissions, depositions, asset searches, private investigators and other more advanced strategies.
It is crucial to have your initial consultation before taking any actions since you can only make the best decision with an informed and intelligent analysis.