Chryssikos Law Firm

Top 10 Things To Do Before Consulting A Divorce Attorney

When I receive a phone call from someone considering a divorce, I like to spend at least 10 minutes or so on the phone with that person to gather some basic facts, so that I know a bit about that person’s situation before they’re sitting in my conference room for a consultation.   I want that hour or so that we meet to be as productive as possible, without wasting time gathering basic facts or fumbling through financial documents.

From a client’s perspective, you want more time getting answers, less time feeding the lawyer facts, especially if you’re paying for that lawyer’s time.  You’d like to walk out of that meeting feeling confident that your most pressing concerns have been addressed and that you have a general feeling whether that lawyer is someone with whom you’d feel comfortable representing you.

So it occurs to me that a basic punch-list of things to do prior walking into a lawyer’s office would be helpful to many people.  It’s certainly not necessary to do all of the following – maybe just a few of these make sense for you, but all are worth considering.  So here’s my list of Top 10 Things To Do Before Consulting A Divorce Attorney:


  • Research The Attorney – I’ve written an entire blog post about Finding The Right Divorce Attorney For You. The purpose of that blog was to provide important points to consider when searching for a family law attorney.  I recommend taking a few minutes to review that blog here if you’re thinking of hiring an attorney.


  • Check Your Credit – If you think you’d like to buy a home, a car, or even just want to be sure you’re not surprised by any previously unknown or undisclosed credit cards or other debt, then obtaining your credit report is a must. Try,, or just purchase it from one of the major credit reporting agencies, Experian, Equifax or TransUnion.


  • Gather Some Documents – Sooner or later, most attorneys are going to ask for at least a few years of tax returns, recent pay stubs, 401(k) statements, mortgage statement, etc. If your spouse keeps a close eye on these documents, it’s best to make copies and put the original back where they were.  Did either spouse have significant pre-marital assets?  Did one of you receive a sizable inheritance?  Is there a family business?  Some basic documents or records could be useful when meeting with an attorney.  Remember, this is just to give the attorney a basic understanding of your finances, so we’re not looking for the whole Bible, just a few chapters.


  • Consider Applying For Credit Cards – Whether you already have access to credit cards or not, applying for one or two new cards doesn’t hurt. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that expenses can mount during a divorce.  Attorney fees, experts, appraisers, mediators, CPA’s, and other expenses aren’t uncommon and having extra resources might prove useful.


  • Email Strategy – Many people share email accounts, use common passwords and common devices with their spouse. This a bad idea when contemplating a divorce and starting to interview attorneys.  Open a new email account with a new password that your spouse won’t know (avoid your child’s name, birthdates, vacations, etc.).  That will be the email to use with the attorney.


  • Best Interests Of The Children – Michigan courts base all decisions concerning child custody and parenting time based on what is in the children’s best interests. Take some time to consider what sort of custody and parenting schedule would likely work for the children.  For more information on how courts determine what is in the children’s best interests, click here.


  • Get A Hobby – Sound foolish? A contentious divorce can consume people and their energy.  In the worst cases, some spend most of their waking moments thinking about the divorce, communicating with their attorney, jotting notes, and more.  If you don’t have one already, find an escape that can get your mind off the process, including exercise.


  • Consider Counseling – Seeking the help of a mental health professional can be beneficial to almost anyone going through a divorce. Marriage counseling is great, but if and when that time has passed, individual counseling for yourself is indispensable.  Your attorney will be your legal advocate and representative, but is a poor substitute for a mental health professional when you need one.


  • Do A Budget – If you don’t already know, it never hurts to have an idea of what it costs to run your household. This will help in the event of dispute over payment of the bills during the divorce or for determining spousal support, if appropriate.


  • Consider Your Short/Long Term Goals – In the short term, start thinking about things like where you’d like to live, should you go back to school, find part-time or full-time work and what you’d do for child care, if needed. In the long term, think about whether you’d like to move elsewhere, what line of work you’d like to be in, and when you’d like to retire.  A good attorney, at least one who’s genuinely interested in your welfare, will want to know your goals in order to help shape the direction of your case and how to help you best.


Remember, this is not a list of things you must do before meeting an attorney.  Do not hesitate to seek out an attorney’s assistance right away if there are issues of domestic violence, substance abuse or other destructive behavior.


For more questions or information, please call us at (248) 290-0515 or visit us at


10.0James W. Chryssikos