For those contemplating divorce, pre-divorce planning is essential especially in these difficult economic times.  Before meeting with a lawyer, the first issue is “How do I select one?”  Talking to friends who have gone through the process is an excellent start as well as checking out lawyers by reputation.  This can be done by talking to friends, family or other lawyers in the community.  It is important to ask other professionals who they respect and who they would choose in such a matter.  Selecting a lawyer who knows the “legal terrain” of the court system of the county where the divorce will take place, and who is experienced, are important considerations.  The next step is collecting data.  Obtaining income tax returns, insurance policies, banking information, copies of stock and brokerage accounts, automobile titles, etc.  All of this is essential in developing your case.  Understanding your monthly costs as well as annual costs and your individual needs are most important.  What does it cost to maintain the house?  Tuition bills for the children?  Medical expenses?  Summer camp costs?  Tutoring and other special needs?  What does it cost to live? The next thing is to prepare a list of questions to be addressed when you meet with your lawyer.  Most initial interviews take approximately 1 to 1½ hours.  That time goes by quickly.  It is important to have a list of questions prepared ahead of time so that you don’t get distracted during the course of that initial conversation and go beyond the time allotted. List your priorities!  Your goals need to be shared with your counsel and shaped with counsel consistent with the facts and the economic realities of the case. It is up to your lawyer to guide you and explain whether or not your goals and objectives are realistic.  Also, if you are undecided as to whether or not you wish to pursue a divorce at that time, it is important to meet with a lawyer, anyway.  This will allow you to understand the law and how it is applied in your jurisdiction consistent with the facts of your case.  There may be other issues or questions which may need to be addressed by your lawyer before you decide to divorce.  Picking the right lawyer is key to the process.  Lawyers have an important say in what happens and in what does not happen in divorce matters.  His or her relationship with opposing counsel is also of consequence.  You do not want two lawyers who have “bad blood” between them which then bleeds into your case and distracts and limits your ability to resolve your matter involved in the dispute.  Remember, it should not be a war between the lawyers; but, rather a dialogue with your spouse through the lawyers which leads to resolution. You must keep your emotions out of it! Emotions only serve to fuel the fires of divorce and cause everyone to suffer – especially the children.