Initial Attorney Consultation: What to Expect

Take the stress out of your divorce by knocking the initial consultation with your attorney out of the park.

Divorce is an emotionally trying time. There are a lot of emotions: anger, fear, resentment, frustration, etc. The process can take months. If it isn’t handled properly, the divorce process can add a lot of stress. One aspect you can be completely prepared for is your initial consultation with your Pittsburgh divorce attorney.

What Will We Discuss?

Expect to discuss almost everything. This is your opportunity to tell your story and begin building a relationship with your attorney. Most importantly, though, expect to discuss your background, your kids (if you have them), and finances.

Background Information

At the outset, your attorney will need to know basic information about you: name, birth date, contact information, your residence history, and likely even your social security number. You will also discuss your marriage. Expect to talk about things like: when and where you were married, your spouse’s information, and why you (or your spouse) are seeking a divorce. Also, you will likely discuss prior marriages and relationships and even current relationships. You may also discuss past litigation and law suits.

The Kids

Another hot topic for the initial consultation is children. Your attorney will want to know about how many children you have and their names. He or she will also want to know what schools they attend and whether you are paying or receiving child support. Additionally, be sure to inform your attorney about whether any of your children have sought counseling with a therapist or psychiatrist.

Criminal Background

One important issue to discuss, especially if children are involved, is the criminal background of you and your spouse. Be sure to talk about all charges that have been brought against you in the past, and any charges that are currently pending. Don’t leave this information out. It may feel embarrassing to talk about it, but it can make or break a divorce case involving children. So be detailed and candid.

Along with your criminal background, talk about any alcohol or drug use you or your spouse have experienced. Did it result in any criminal charges or investigations with Children and Youth Services? Has the alcohol or drug use occurred around the children? Did it lead to any domestic violence incidents or a protection from abuse order? Are you or your spouse currently in recovery? These are all important topics to discuss.

Employment, Education, and Military Service

For purposes of support, it is important to discuss the educational and employment backgrounds of you and your spouse. Include military service and whether there any dishonorable or less than honorable discharges. If so, explain why.

Additionally, you can expect to discuss your finances in great depth. A good point of preparation is to have the last three (3) years of tax returns with you at the consultation, as well as your current checking, savings, and investment account statements, and the last year’s worth of paystubs. If you have this information for your spouse, bring it along with you. You can save a considerable amount in discovery costs and attorney’s fees by providing this information up front.


One last item you can expect to discuss is your assets. Assets are any property you own. This may be an automobile, a home, or an investment account. It may even be your family pet. Again, be sure to be candid and open with your attorney about what you own. You don’t want anything to be overlooked. With assets, you will also discuss debts. So be aware of the balances on your credit cards, car loans, and mortgage.

Like we said, divorce can be trying. However, with a little bit of preparation you can get started off on the right foot. Use the initial consultation as your opportunity to ask any questions you have and to tell your story. Most importantly: use the opportunity to build trust and candor with your attorney.

If you are located in Pittsburgh and are seeking a family law attorney for a divorce, contact the team at Dodaro, Matta, & Cambest, P.C. today at 412-243-1600 to schedule a consultation.

Leave a Reply