You have your first consultation with your divorce lawyer. What do you need to know? The more prepared you are, the more productive the meeting will be. This document provides an outline of questions you should be ready to answer.
Only residents of Fresno, California are permitted to divorce in the county. Specifically, either you or your spouse must have lived in California for at least six months and in Fresno County for at least three months prior to filing for divorce. To determine your residency, your attorney will ask you:
- What is your home address and how long have you lived there?
- Does your driver’s license reflect that address?
- If you do not meet the residency criteria, does your spouse?
Generally you and your spouse are entitled to half of the marital home if it is considered community property regardless of whose name is on the title and mortgage. Division of other real property may depend upon the date the asset was acquired, source of the funds used to purchase the asset, who holds the title and whether marital assets were used for mortgage payments, upkeep, and expenses. Your attorney will want to know:
- What is the mortgage versus equity in your marital home?
- Do you want to keep the home or sell it and divide the proceeds?
- Is your other real estate in your name, your spouse’s or both?
Your assets and debts
Your attorney needs to understand the extent and value of your assets and debts. Make a list before your appointment that includes homes, cars, electronics, jewelry, stocks, pensions, bank accounts, and anything else of high value. Make a separate list of mortgages, credit cards, auto loans, student loans, and other liabilities. Upon reviewing this list, your attorney may ask:
- Have you already reached an agreement about any of these assets?
- Were any of these assets owned before the marriage and did you maintain them separately from your marital assets?
- Which assets do you want to keep and which would you be willing to concede to your spouse?
- Whose name or names are on the debt obligations?
- Did you acquire debt in your name to contribute to the household?
Be prepared to talk about your children, including number, ages, and other basic facts. Now is the time to discuss exceptional circumstances, such as special needs, educational requirements, or health issues, that might affect custody decisions. You also should be prepared to discuss anything that might affect your custody or visitation arrangements. Your lawyer will likely ask you:
- How do you and your spouse divide childcare duties?
- Describe your work schedule and other obligations.
- How much time do you spend with your children now?
- If you’re separated, what child custody arrangement do you have now?
Consult with an experienced Fresno divorce lawyer
Do you have questions for an experienced Fresno divorce attorney? Contact Rebecca Medina to learn more about your rights, obligations, and divorce strategies.