What to Bring to (and Think About Before) the Consultation Meeting
It is very helpful for our attorneys to have as much information as possible regarding a case from the outset. Having an idea of what information we will want can be useful for potential clients in planning for the Consultation Meeting. Some examples of this information follow; some of this information will be in the form of documents and papers, while some information will be in a potential client’s memory. Please understand that this list is only for information on what to expect, and a potential client should not feel required to get a complete list or collection of this information together before setting up a Consultation Meeting. In other words, don’t be overwhelmed by the information our attorneys will likely ask about; it’s very common for potential clients to be unaware of some or most of these things.
Financial information is very important in a divorce case, so it is helpful for us to have information on each spouse’s income and deductions or withholdings from that income. Values for assets, such as the family home, cars, and other valuables, whether the assets are in the name of one spouse or both are important. If there is real estate other than the family home, values for that property are also very important. The balances of financial accounts, like retirement funds, banking accounts, investments, and the like, will be relevant in a divorce case. Information about debts, whether they are individual or joint, will also be necessary in a divorce case. Common debts are the mortgage on the family home, notes payable on other real estate, taxes, credit card debt, lines of credit, student loan debts, auto loans, loans secured by other vehicles, like ATVs or farm equipment, and other personal loans. Values and debts of family-owned businesses should also be discussed, as those matters will more than likely be relevant in a divorce action. These expenses include all financial expenditures necessary to keep the family afloat during the month. Many potential clients have no idea – or very little idea – about asset values, debt balances, and even monthly expenses. That’s completely fine. Even if a potential client lacks this financial information, once our firm is hired, in most cases, we will have the ability to obtain this information. Other important information in a divorce case includes facts about the reason a person is seeking a divorce. Our Divorce Center page provides more detailed information about the general divorce process and our divorce system in Mississippi. Our attorneys will ask about the reasons a divorce is being sought, focusing on which “fault ground” might apply to a particular case. If the parties have children, facts regarding them will be important; therefore, the discussion of Child Custody cases that follows would apply equally in a divorce case.
Child custody actions are all about what is best for the children involved. The following information and documents relating to these factors are important in custody cases: the children’s health; the parent or person who the children have been living with; the parenting skills of the parties; the willingness and capacity of the parties to provide care for the children; the parties’ employment, and the responsibilities and stability of that employment; the parties’ physical and mental health; the parties’ ages; the emotional ties of the parties to the children; the moral fitness of the parties; if the children are over 12 years old, the preference of the children as to the party with whom the children would like to live; and the stability of the parties’ home(s).
In a contempt case, the issue is whether someone violated a Judgment or Order of a court. Many contempt cases are about a person’s failure to abide by a financial award or a custody/visitation arrangement. The Plaintiff in such a case would be asked to identify the financial award and provide a history of payments or installments on the award. Plaintiffs frequently put together a list of payments made by the Defendant, which also lists the payments or installments that were not paid. Detailed information about payment history is critical in financial contempt cases. Defendants in financial contempt cases could also put together a history or chronology of payments to assist in defending against the claim. In a custody/visitation contempt case, details about the violations are very important. This kind of information could include things like the dates on which a visitation or custodial period were prevented, or ways in which a person interfered with court-ordered visitation or custody. A more detailed discussion of contempt cases can be found on the Problems After Divorce page.
The issues in modification cases vary widely from changes in child support to changes in child custody to changes in alimony payments, and everything in between. Usually, the issue is about what has changed; therefore, information about the material, or significant, change is critical to an attorney’s assessment of the case. Modification cases are discussed in more detail on the Problems After Divorce page.
If a case has already been filed and is currently pending, our attorneys would like to see a copy of the Complaint (sometimes called a Petition) and Summons that have been filed. Also, a copy of the Answer, if one has been filed, could be useful in the consultation meeting. Copies of a previous Judgment, as in a modification or contempt case, will be important.
Alienation of Affection
In most alienation of affection scenarios, a marriage has already been dissolved by divorce. A copy of the Judgment of Divorce, along with any related agreement in an Irreconcilable Differences divorce, such a Child Custody and Property Settlement Agreement or Marital Dissolution Agreement, would be important for our attorneys to review. Information about the person who interfered with the marriage, like his or her city and state of residence and employment is ultimately very important in an alienation of affection case. The believed locations of the liaisons between the guilty spouse and the third party is relevant in an alienation of affection case. If known, information about the interfering party’s assets would be good information to have. Our team would also want to know as much detail as possible about the forbidden relationship.
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