Wednesday, January 22, 2014

What to Bring to Initial Divorce Consultation - Part IV

The next thing that I encourage people to bring is an open mind and open ears. Individuals come in to consultations seeking help. The start of litigation is often a very scary process to many individuals. Your time can be consumed by "What Ifs?" When you go to your initial consultation with an attorney this is your time to meet and get a feel for the consulting attorney, so listen to the information provided and determine if it meets your needs and expectations. Many attorneys offer free consultations to individuals. Use this “free” time wisely and efficiently. *If you have a question or are in need of an attorney for Family Law matters in the State of Tennessee, I offer a free 30 minute consultation - Call today to schedule your consultation - (423) 648-6622. (Limited evening and Saturday appointments now available)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

What to Bring to Initial Divorce Consultation - Part III

The second thing that I encourage people to bring to the initial consultation is a list of questions. Individuals often come to consultations with numerous questions in mind, but then once the consulting attorney asks if he/she can answer any questions, the individual "goes blank". So it is always wise to write your questions down. At some point during the meeting, you can hand the questions to the consulting attorney and he/she will try to answer any unanswered questions, since some may be answered during the process.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

What to Bring to Initial Divorce Consultation - Part II

The first thing that I encourage people to bring to their initial consultation is Court paperwork; however, that does not mean that all paperwork should be brought to your initial consultation. Remember often consultations are free and the consulting attorney will not have time to go into a detailed review of bank statements, 401(k) information, bills, etc… So please limit the additional information at this meeting. Once you hire an attorney, you will learn what additional information is needed at that time and the attorney will review your documents in detail.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

What to Bring to Initial Divorce Consultation - Part I

The first thing I encourage people to bring to their initial consultation is Court paperwork. This includes any documents filed with the Court (Complaints, Orders or other pleadings). They are essential for the consulting attorney to review to allow him/her to evaluate your case. *If you have a question or are in need of an attorney for Family Law matters in the State of Tennessee, I offer a free 30 minute consultation - Call today to schedule your appointment - (423) 648-6622. (Evening and Saturday appointments now available)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

What to Bring to Initial Divorce Consultation

I often run into people who say, “Angela, I am getting divorced and I have my initial attorney consultation next week, what should I bring?” Over the next few weeks, I will post thoughts on what to bring to your first divorce consultation. *If you have a question or are in need of an attorney for Family Law matters in the State of Tennessee, I offer a free 30 minute consultation - Call today to schedule your appointment - (423) 648-6622.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Top 5 Things to Bring to Divorce Mediation

When parties to a divorce reach the stage of attending mediation, proper preparation by both parties before the mediation begins can be the "make it or break it" factor to whether the parties reach an agreement.

In order to prepare for mediation, I suggest the following top five things to bring to (or to exchange with the other party prior to) mediation:

1. Financial Information - Income information will always be necessary if child support or alimony are issues up for discussion at mediation. Therefore, paystubs, W-2s and/or tax returns will be very helpful if numbers need to be crunched during mediation.

2. Proposed Division of Assets and Liabilities - If one of the issues is: "How are we dividing up our property and our bills?", it is generally advisable for both parties to sit down with a list of which items need to be divided (and which have already been divided), information about the assets/liabilities (market value, liens, and/or balance owed), and their respective preference as to who is going to keep which assets and who is going to pay what bills.

3. Proposed Division of Parenting Time - If parenting time/visitation/custody of minor children is at issue, it's generally safe to say that both parents will be awarded some kind of parenting time with the child(ren). How long the parenting time period last, who is present or not present during the parenting period and other conditions can accompany a parenting time agreement, if they are necessary. Therefore, like the proposed division of assets and liabilities, both parties should come to mediation prepared with at least one option of how parenting time will be divided between the parents.

4. An Open Mind - A mediation session is a time for negotiation. Therefore, if one party comes in completely dead-set on only one possible outcome, an agreement will probably not be reached. Both parties must be open to thinking about possible solutions to their issues and considering options that they have not thought about before.

5. Intention to Memorialize an Agreement- The most important premise of mediation is that it is a confidential process. Therefore, whatever happens at mediation cannot be discussed or brought up outside of the mediation session, not even before a Judge. If settlement options are discussed, they are not solidified until an agreement is signed that day at mediation. If no agreement is signed, all bets are off about whatever agreement was being negotiated and there is no requirement on a party to sign an agreement even if it's been verbally agreed to.

If the parties (or either of them) appear at mediation without attorneys, it is recommended that they be able to get in touch with their attorney for legal advice or review of the agreement if necessary and if the absence of their attorney's opinion will prevent them from signing an agreement while at mediation.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


As a family law attorney in Chattanooga, Tennessee, I encounter people everyday who are struggling through the maze of a divorce. In almost every case, there is emotional and financial upheaval for both parties. Many people who are going through a divorce have ideas of how the process and outcome of a divorce should be. Often these ideas, both good and bad, could not be farther from reality.

In Tennessee, either the parties agree on how to divide up their property and parenting time, or a judge makes the decision(s) for them at a trial. Many people mistakenly believe that they will come out better in court than if they settle, but most of the time this is not the case.

The judge will not have the time to listen to all of the details of why one party deserves more or less than the other. The parties will also not have the opportunity to do anything more than answer the questions that are asked of them during the trial. The icing on the cake is that by trial time, both parties have now incurred substantially more attorney fees in order to get to this point.


There is a silver lining to this process however - mediation. In Tennessee, divorcing parties who cannot agree on how to divide their property and/or parenting time, are required to go to mediation before the court will make any final decisions in the matter.

As a Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 31 Listed Family Mediator, it is my passion to help divorcing parties prevent unnecessary cost, time delays and emotional turmoil of having to go through divorce litigation.

Mediation is a process in which a neutral mediator facilitates communication and negotiation between the divorcing parties and their attorneys with the goal of arriving at a mutually agreeable decision on the specific issues of the parties.

Often the mediator will be an attorney and will have significant background and experience to understand the divorce process, however, the mediator should not provide legal advice or explanations of the law. Therefore, generally each party has an attorney present so that they can be fully informed of their rights and ideally able to appropriately weigh the options of having a trial or compromising to get to a settlement.

The primary goal of mediation should be to reach a settlement of the issues. In order to do this, each party and their attorney needs to come ready to work towards exchanging information, negotiating and compromising in the interest of a resolution that day.

The mediation agreement will be signed by all the parties and their attorneys and incorporated into the Final Decree of Divorce that will be signed by the Judge.