Quick Guide | First Consult with a Bucks County Divorce Lawyer

Preparing for the First Meeting with a Bucks County Divorce Lawyer

It goes without saying that making the first call to schedule a consultation with a divorce lawyer can be intimidating.  There are surely thousands of thoughts racing through your mind, trying to predict the future and cover all the bases.  Trying to be logical during an emotional time is exhausting and there are quite a few top priorities to think about.  From your kids to your home, and future finances, there is a lot to plan.  To guide your first meeting with a Bucks County divorce lawyer, take time to consider several major issues.

1.  The Kids

How do you see custody after divorce?

For couples considering divorce who have children, this is of upmost concern.  Before you meet with a divorce lawyer, start thinking about custody.  You will need to decide which parent will have physical and legal custody of the children.  Begin thinking about a possible arrangement for shared custody, rotation of visits and overnights, etc.  Holidays, vacations, and other arrangements specific to your child’s needs should be considered.

In addition to the regular schedule, planning holiday arrangements will help provide structure and predictability for your family during a new phase.  Before the meeting, collect any existing orders, stipulations or agreements between you and your spouse with respect to custody.  Jot down their names, birthdates and other identifying information that you can leave with your divorce lawyer.  This will allow a firm to quickly draft the filings needed to initiate the process.

How will child support be determined and how much will we receive?

When it comes to Pennsylvania child support, many parents rely heavily on the possibility of these payments to maintain the household.  It is possible for spouses to decide and formalize an agreement on amounts, bearing in mind the best interests of the child or children.  When it is not possible to do this, prepare to discuss child support with your Bucks county divorce lawyer; and experienced Bucks county divorce attorney will be able to give you calculations to estimate how much you will pay or be owed monthly.

To prepare for this discussion at your first meeting, jot down each spouse’s income.  Combined with other factors such as taxes, health insurance benefits or coverage, and alimony, your lawyer will be able to determine what amounts will be due each month.  You will also want to discuss any other special activities or educational needs for your children that may cause deviation from the guidelines.

2.  The House

What do you want to do with the house?

Many couples have the hardest time settling matters related to the marital home.  Who stays, who goes, when that happens, or if the home is sold are a few hot-button issues to contend with.  Even if a couple decides to sell, there can be fights over the listing price and/or listing agent used to market and sell the home.  Start thinking about what would be the best for you and your children given the circumstances and prepare to discuss the options with your divorce lawyer.  It is wise to avoid any major moves prior to meeting with your lawyer.

If kids are involved in the divorce, many couples attempt to keep the marital home and have one parent with primary physical custody.  Many experts and specialists in the field of family studies find that allowing children to have one continuous residence is of greater benefit than splitting time between or among multiple homes.  Often, this becomes the greatest area of difficulty as so many elements are tied up in the home.  It can be emotional, but begin thinking about the pros and cons, as well as the cost of living expenses, including child care.  Your divorce lawyer is best equipped to assemble this information into feasible options and discuss realistic and "best case scenarios".

3.  The Money

How do we split our money and our debt?

During divorce in Pennsylvania, you will need to decide how assets and liabilities will be divided.  To reduce costs, it is advisable for spouses to manage this decision-making process on their own with the guidance of lawyers, and avoid the courtroom.  There are property rights in Pennsylvania that are subject to equitable distribution.  Unlike other states that practice 50/50 division, Pennsylvania attempts to create a more fair and thoughtful distribution of assets and liabilities.

First, a Bucks county divorce lawyer will help you determine which assets or liabilities are marital or not.  Come prepared with any valuations you may have, such as blue book values and purchase information. Other information like vesting of 401K plans is useful if it is accessible prior to your first meeting.  Having a written or mental list of major assets and/or liabilities for this first meeting can educate your lawyer on exactly what is on the table.  Having this amount of disclosure to your divorce lawyer will be critical in getting you the best outcome possible.  Some common items for this list include mortgages, tangible and intangible property or investments, and any loans that exist.  You will want to begin thinking about when these things came to be, and who benefitted from their use.  This information will allow your divorce lawyer to determine what is going to be discussed.

Even if you are not 100% sure where you stand in your divorce, talking to a divorce lawyer can help filter out any misinformation and chatter in your mind.  Having experienced lawyers on your side to show you the facts and expectations can provide a game plan for getting through the process.  Call (215) 942-2100 to schedule a consultation with a Bucks County divorce lawyer today.