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5 Tips When Meeting With a Divorce Attorney at Intake

Welcome to our last post in our blog series, What to Know Before Meeting with a Divorce Attorney

meeting with a divorce attorney

For those of you just joining us, so far we’ve talked about:

The Initial Consultation and How to Use it to Get Yourself the right Divorce Attorney (our first post of the series);

How to Schedule an Intake Appointment and What Questions You Should Ask Ahead of Time (our second post of the series);

What You’ll Need to Bring with You to the Intake Appointment (our third post in the series); and

What Happens at an Intake Appointment with a Divorce Attorney (our fourth post in the series).

Now that you’ve gotten a chance to check out our previous posts, here are 5 tips to make the most out of your intake appointment with your divorce attorney.

TIP # 1: When meeting with a Divorce Attorney, make sure the Divorce Attorney Listens to and Matches Your Goals.

Not all divorce attorneys are the same. 

Some divorce attorneys are more aggressive and confrontational than other divorce attorneys.

For example, although alternative dispute resolution (methods, such as mediation, for negotiating with your spouse) is required in most cases in Minnesota, some divorce attorneys push more strongly for a trial. Going to trial is where the majority of legal fees and costs reside during a divorce. –> If you’re looking to avoid going to trial in your divorce, then going with an attorney with a high percentage of divorce cases that go to trial, may not be the best fit. 

Some divorce attorneys are more comfortable with a client completing case tasks that don’t require attorney oversight than other divorce attorneys.

For example, some divorce attorneys allow a client to arrange a property evaluation, such as a house appraisal with a third party, while other divorce attorneys view this as part of his/her billable services. –> If you want your divorce attorney to handle everything, than you’ll be dissatisfied with a divorce attorney who gives you a list of tasks to complete independently. Whereas, if you’re goal is to save money, you’d be happy that you didn’t get charged for things you could do yourself. 

The point is, in order to guarantee a good fit, you need to identify ahead of time what your goals are and evaluate what kind of divorce attorney you want representing you.

Thus, it’s important to make sure that you get a divorce attorney that matches what you’re looking for and is able to meet your needs. So if you haven’t already, use the intake appointment to get to know your divorce attorney better.

meeting with a divorce attorney

Signs that You’ve Found a Divorce Attorney that Listens to and Matches Your Goals:

– Your divorce attorney takes notes when you’re talking about your goals.

– Your divorce attorney makes direct eye contact with you when you’re speaking and provides his/her undivided attention to you and your case. 

– You and your divorce attorney, together, create a plan on how to proceed with your divorce that incorporates your goals and meets your needs. 

*NOTE: If your divorce attorney hasn’t asked about your goals by the intake appointment, that’s a BIG red flag and it’d be advantageous to evaluate your decision to hire him/her.

Meeting with a divorce attorney

Tip # 2: When meeting with a Divorce Attorney, Be Prepared to Offer Personal Information.

As discussed briefly in our previous post, your divorce attorney will want to collect information about a wide variety of topics that may pertain to your divorce at the intake appointment. Aside from core issues, like your property, debts, incomes, and children, often times more uncomfortable and private issues arise, like domestic abuse, drug & alcohol use, mental health issues, etc… It’s easy to feel like your being judged and that your life is under a microscope when you’re being asked such questions by an outsider. 

However, you may find it helpful to know that the client-patient relationship you have with your doctor is very similar to the relationship you share with your divorce attorney.

To illustrate, just like what you tell your doctor is private and confidential, the same goes for what you share with your divorce attorney. In addition, similar to your doctor, your divorce attorney is ethically bound to do what’s in your best interests. And lastly, just like the recommendations a doctor makes and the medical plan that s/he creates for you is based on the information you share with him/her, an attorney’s counsel and legal advice is also directly related to the information you provide him/her.

meeting with a divorce attorney

So although it’s difficult opening up to a stranger, omitting certain facts is detrimental to your case because it limits your divorce attorney’s abilities. Therefore, it’s best to be completely honest and trust that the divorce attorney is only asking you such questions so s/he has a thorough understanding of your situation. After all, your divorce attorney can’t provide the best possible counsel and legal guidance if s/he doesn’t have all the facts.

TIP # 3: When meeting with a Divorce Attorney, Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Clarification.

meeting with a divorce attorney

Some people shy away from asking questions. Don’t. Although hopefully your divorce attorney does a good job of explaining things to you, if you don’t understand something s/he said, ask for clarification. There’s no need for embarrassment. The divorce attorney does this for a living. You don’t.

Therefore, neither your divorce attorney nor yourself, for that matter, should expect you to be well-versed in family law and divorce procedures. Instead, your divorce attorney should be willing to talk with you until you not only understand, but feel comfortable and confident in the decisions being made in your divorce.  

TIP # 4: When meeting with a Divorce Attorney, Make Sure You Understand What the Next Steps Are.

As mentioned in our previous post, at the end of the intake appointment with your divorce attorney, s/he should clearly explain what the next steps are in your divorce case. It’s essential that you know what the divorce attorney needs from you and what s/he will be doing to proceed with your divorce. 

meeting with a divorce attorney

In fact, it’s important that you not only understand what the next steps are after the intake appointment, but throughout your divorce case. There will be times in your divorce, when your divorce attorney won’t be able to proceed until s/he hears back from you or gets something signed by you, etc…so it’s important that you’re always on the same page. When there’s a disconnect in communication and responsiveness between the two of you, it prolongs the divorce process.

TIP # 5: When meeting with a Divorce Attorney, Take a Proactive Stance with Your Divorce (Starting at the Intake Appointment).

There should never be a time when you feel like your divorce attorney has lost focus of your goals. If you find yourself in this situation, regardless of whether it’s after the intake appointment or later on, let your divorce attorney know immediately. The more you discuss your goals and expectations with your divorce attorney, the more likely you’ll be satisfied with the end result. 

meeting with a divorce attorney

  • You can satisfy tip #4 and #5 by requesting that at the end of each conversation or meeting with your divorce attorney, that s/he summarizes the key points and the next steps in your case for both him/her and yourself. This way you can be confident that you’re divorce attorney is working towards your goals and you ensure that you always know what’s happening with your divorce case.

Thanks for checking out our series, What To Know Before Meeting With A Divorce Attorney. Hopefully, you’ve gotten a better idea of what to expect when meeting with a divorce attorney, you feel more prepared for the intake appointment, and you’re able to find the divorce attorney that’s right for you! 

Love To Hear From You…

Besides knowing what to expect, what else would make meeting with a divorce attorney easier? Chime in below ~


39 Comments on "5 Tips When Meeting With a Divorce Attorney at Intake"

  1. Anna Menzel on Mon, 1st Feb 2016 8:12 pm 

    The importance of your first tip can’t go understated. Making sure that you guys see eye to eye on your goals and methods is crucial in making sure that you have as positive of an experience as possible. Being completely honest in your situation and your desires will make this observation really easy for you.

  2. mndivorcelawyer on Wed, 13th Apr 2016 8:30 am 

    Hi Anna,
    Absolutely couldn’t agree with you more. If your divorce attorney has his/her own agenda, disregards your goals, and the two of you are on completely different pages – it’s not going to work. And yes, being honest and upfront with your divorce attorney about your goals is the only way to ensure that the divorce attorney knows what you want. Thanks for your comments.

  3. Grace Turner on Thu, 4th Feb 2016 10:13 am 

    I like the idea of having my attorney summarize the key points of the meeting and tell me what is the next step. Doing this would really make me feel a lot more comfortable with my lawyer and comfortable with what he is doing for my case. I think it will also comfort my sister who will be going through a divorce soon. I will pass this along to her.

  4. mndivorcelawyer on Wed, 13th Apr 2016 8:21 am 

    Hi Grace,
    Thank you for your comments and sharing these tips with your sister. We’re glad you found the “summarizing key points and next steps” tips helpful. The divorce process is easier when both you and your divorce attorney are on the same page so it’s really a great idea to do it at every meeting.

  5. Vicky Durrant on Tue, 9th Feb 2016 4:43 pm 

    I’m going to be getting a divorce in a few weeks, so I’m happy that I found your tips! I liked what you mentioned about not being afraid to ask for clarification from my divorce attorney. There are a lot of complicated legal terms that my attorney uses that I don’t understand. From now on, I’ll be sure to ask him to stop and explain when I don’t understand something that he says. Thank you for the great advice, I’m sure that it’s going to help me with the divorce process!

  6. mndivorcelawyer on Wed, 13th Apr 2016 8:18 am 

    Hi Vicky,
    Thank you for your comments. We’re glad that you found these tips and hope that they’re helpful for you during the divorce process. Good for you for asking for clarification and further explanation from your divorce attorney. A good divorce attorney wants you to understand and wants to do everything s/he can to make the process easier. When you ask for clarification, you’re helping the divorce attorney provide quality services to you, so the divorce attorney should be grateful.

  7. STEELE HONDA on Tue, 16th Feb 2016 4:52 pm 

    Thanks for the tips! I have never met with a divorce attorney before but if I ever do, I am sure these tips will help calm a lot of nerves! Thanks for stating that , ” it’s important to make sure that you get a divorce attorney that matches what you’re looking for and is able to meet your needs.”. My friends have gone through a divorce and one of them had a lawyer and it made winning the case a whole lot easier for that friend. Getting a divorce attorney would probably be a good thing to invest in if you are going through a divorce.

  8. mndivorcelawyer on Wed, 13th Apr 2016 8:07 am 

    Hi Steele,
    You’re very welcome. Glad you found these tips helpful. Thank you for your comments.

  9. emily bennette on Thu, 25th Feb 2016 7:52 pm 

    Divorce is a really tricky and difficult thing to maneuver. So, I really liked your tip on making sure you understand what your next steps are. I agree if you are confused about what happens next you should ask your divorce attorney what to do. After all, want to make sure the process will go smoothly.

  10. mndivorcelawyer on Wed, 13th Apr 2016 9:04 am 

    Hi Emily,
    Thank you for your comments. We’re glad you found the “Next Steps” tip helpful. You’re absolutely right! It makes the process go more smoothly and ensures that there’s no confusion on anyone’s part.

  11. kiyel williams on Tue, 29th Mar 2016 8:56 am 

    I think it’s definitely a good idea to find an attorney who actively listens to you and not only matches but adds to your goals. You need someone who is going to be on your side completely during such a tough time. I will have to pass this information on to my friend so she can better look for an attorney for her divorce. Thank you for the information!

  12. mndivorcelawyer on Wed, 13th Apr 2016 7:54 am 

    Hi Kiyel,
    Thanks for your comments and for passing on the article to your friend. We hope she finds it helpful when she is looking for a divorce attorney.

  13. Annie Frances on Wed, 18th May 2016 1:32 pm 

    My friend’s parents got a divorce last month and their family law attorney helped a ton. One of the main things my friend’s mom wanted in an attorney was someone who could listen. During their initial consultation, the attorney took notes and was immediately hired. These are great tips, thanks!

  14. mndivorcelawyer on Thu, 2nd Jun 2016 6:52 am 

    Hi Annie,
    Thanks for your comments. Glad to hear that they found their attorney helpful during their divorce and that s/he was attentive to their needs and goals.

  15. Sarah Smith on Wed, 18th May 2016 5:27 pm 

    My husband and I are getting a divorce and I’m trying to prepare myself for meeting a divorce attorney. Thanks for the warning about needing to share personal information. Hopefully, I can find a good divorce attorney that I feel comfortable talking to .

  16. mndivorcelawyer on Thu, 2nd Jun 2016 7:03 am 

    Hi Sarah,
    We hope you found the article helpful and that you were able to find an attorney that you feel comfortable working with and trust. Is there anything else that would of been helpful to know ahead of time or tips that you would add to the article? Always appreciate hearing feedback and getting different perspectives. Thank you for your comments.

  17. lawyer directory on Wed, 25th May 2016 8:21 pm 

    These are really very useful tips to keep in mind before meeting divorce attorney.It will going to help many people who are nervous for meeting their attorney

  18. mndivorcelawyer on Thu, 2nd Jun 2016 7:05 am 

    Thank you for your comments and we hope the article is helpful.

  19. Charles Kemp on Fri, 3rd Jun 2016 8:05 am 

    I like what you said about clarification. I think it would be really helpful to fully understand. I also think it would be smart to ask questions just to help out the attorney.

  20. mndivorcelawyer on Thu, 9th Jun 2016 9:37 am 

    Hi Charles,
    Thank you for your comments and reading our article.

  21. Wade Joel on Thu, 28th Jul 2016 11:31 am 

    No one plans to get divorced. It can be hard to go through one. I agree that getting a lawyer that listens to you is a great idea because they will be on the same page as you.

  22. mndivorcelawyer on Thu, 4th Aug 2016 7:16 am 

    Hi Wade,
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Going through a divorce is hard, so the last thing you want is to have a lawyer who isn’t even on the same page as you, because s/he doesn’t take the time to listen.

  23. Kendall Ryder on Tue, 2nd Aug 2016 9:15 am 

    I don’t think many people like sharing personal information. But, I can see how helpful it will be for the attorney to have that information. If you want to be able to get the most out of the attorney’s services, you should probably be willing to share stuff!

  24. mndivorcelawyer on Thu, 4th Aug 2016 7:34 am 

    Good Morning Kendall,
    Thanks for your response. Yeah, a lot of people (and understandably so) don’t like sharing personal information. However, the more your divorce attorney knows, the better s/he is able to help you. So although it can be a little uncomfortable at first, it’s truly in your best interests. After all, if you’re divorce attorney doesn’t have all the facts, how can s/he provide you with the best counsel?

  25. Jade Brunet on Tue, 23rd Aug 2016 8:17 am 

    My friend is starting the divorce process and is looking for information of what she can do to make the situation more simple and less stressful. I will inform my friend that she should be prepared to offer personal information when meeting with her attorney. Another thing to consider is if the lawyer is experienced and really cares for the case.

  26. mndivorcelawyer on Tue, 23rd Aug 2016 9:52 am 

    Hello Jade,
    Thank you for checking out our article and sharing with your friend. We hope that s/he finds the information helpful. Couldn’t agree with you more about considering if the lawyer is experienced and cares about the case. We talk about those considerations in a blog series titled, “Got a Good Lawyer?” The series focuses on how to find the best divorce lawyer for you and your case. Just thought we’d share that resource for your friend, if s/he hasn’t yet found a divorce attorney. Again, appreciate your comments and stopping by!

  27. Brown Law, P.L. on Mon, 5th Sep 2016 4:02 am 

    Hi nice post about divorce Lawyer thanks for sharing.

  28. mndivorcelawyer on Thu, 15th Sep 2016 6:12 am 

    Good Morning. Thanks for stopping by and hope the article is helpful.

  29. Ridley Fitzgerald on Wed, 30th Nov 2016 2:35 pm 

    Thanks for the tips for hiring a divorce lawyer. I just think your first tip is so important. Why would you hire a lawyer who’s goals are different than yours? Even more important is finding someone who will actually listen to you.

  30. mndivorcelawyer on Thu, 8th Dec 2016 10:00 am 

    Hi Ridley,

    You’re very welcome. Thank you for stopping by and checking out our blog. We appreciate your comments and share your opinion on the importance of finding a divorce attorney that listens and serves the goals of the client. Any additional tips you’d add when meeting with a divorce attorney at intake?

  31. Lillian Schaeffer on Tue, 6th Dec 2016 1:53 pm 

    You pointed out that choosing a divorce attorney who listens is important. My husband and I have decided to separate, and I need to find a good lawyer who can guide me through this situation. I think communication is important, so I’ll make sure I find an attorney who listens well so my goals are clear.

  32. mndivorcelawyer on Thu, 8th Dec 2016 9:54 am 

    Hi Lillian,

    Thank you for reading our article. We hope it helps you find the right divorce attorney for you. Like you said, communication between you and your attorney is essential and can really help with making sure you both are on the same page and striving towards the same goals. We have some additional articles in our blog that you might find helpful. They deal with the intake appointment process, consultation, etc…and can help you prepare for your first meeting with your attorney. Let us know if you have any additional questions.

  33. Cindy Tesler on Wed, 21st Dec 2016 12:12 pm 

    I think it’s good to choose a family lawyer that listens to you and aligns their goals with yours. You also said that you need to identify ahead of time what your goals are. I think it’s a good idea to choose a family lawyer that offers you a free first-time consultation meeting to make sure that you’re a good fit.

  34. mndivorcelawyer on Wed, 28th Dec 2016 8:32 am 

    Hi Cindy,
    Absolutely – Using the consultation to determine if your divorce or family law attorney is a good fit is great advice! In our article, on consultations, we listed that as one of the many benefits of the consultation. Appreciate you stopping on by!

  35. Theresa T. McNeal on Mon, 9th Jan 2017 9:31 am 

    I believe experience and local reputation is the key factor to be the best divorce Lawyer. Do you agree with me?

  36. mndivorcelawyer on Fri, 13th Jan 2017 12:36 pm 

    Hello Theresa,
    Thanks for stopping by. Experience and local reputation are certainly important when looking for the best divorce lawyer. However, we also believe that there are additional key factors to take into consideration when looking for the best divorce attorney. For example, it’s important that the divorce lawyer is on the same page as the individual s/he is representing and is willing to work towards the client’s goals. In addition, it’s important that the client feels comfortable with the divorce attorney and trusts him/her.

  37. Lawyer Locater on Fri, 20th Jan 2017 5:13 pm 

    Love the article!So many people can’t find the right lawyer for them because of them simply lacking knowledge like this! I appreciate your work as a whole and wanted to give you some love.

  38. mndivorcelawyer on Tue, 24th Jan 2017 11:48 am 

    Thanks for stopping by!

  39. Ridley Fitzgerald on Fri, 23rd Jun 2017 3:36 pm 

    These are some great tips for meeting with a divorce lawyer. I am hoping to divorce my wife soon, and I have some lawyers lined up to meet with. I’ll be sure to settle with one who listens to me, like you said.

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