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Why you should meet with an attorney before divorce is imminent

Many people put off talking with a family law attorney until they're certain they want to divorce their spouse -- or until their spouse asks them for a divorce. They're afraid that talking to a lawyer makes something real that may not be yet -- or ever. They may be concerned that an attorney will talk them into getting a divorce when they haven't made up their mind yet. No responsible attorney will do that.

Why should you talk with an attorney before you've made up your mind about your marriage or if you only suspect that your spouse may be ready to end it? It's wise to be prepared, to understand Wisconsin family law statutes and to know how the process works. This can be empowering.

An initial consultation with an attorney will likely involve a fee, so find out what it is. You may want to inquire about their other fees to determine whether they're in your price range if you were to retain them to represent you.

You can make the most of your consultation by coming in prepared. If you have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, bring that. It's also wise to bring in financial and tax documents. Find out if the attorney would like you to bring any other documentation.

It's also a good idea to prepare a brief summary of what you want to tell the attorney about your marital situation and your goals if you divorce. As one attorney notes, "This first meeting is a major step and can be highly emotional." Having some things prepared that you can refer to can help you focus on your questions and concerns.

It's typically best if you don't tell your spouse that you're meeting with an attorney. This could exacerbate an already tense situation. You're just getting information at this point and exploring your options. There's probably no advantage to telling your spouse until and unless you decide to move forward with ending the marriage.

You may talk with more than one attorney as you look for one you feel comfortable with. It's essential that you choose an attorney you feel free to share intimate aspects of your life with. You also want one who has the same goals as you have if you proceed to divorce.

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