Preparing to meet with a family law lawyer

This list can help you keep a note of everything you need to have and do to make the most of your time with your lawyer.

See Working well with a family law lawyer for more information about this.

Contact information

Make a note of your lawyer's:

  • name
  • address
  • phone number

Keep this information with you in case you need it in an emergency.

All the communication between you and your lawyer is confidential. It can’t be shared with anyone else without your permission. Be honest with your lawyer.

Think about your legal issues

The more you've thought about your legal issues and possible solutions, the more your lawyer will be able to advise you.

  • Write down the questions you want to ask.
  • Take your written notes to the meeting.
Take lots of paper and a pen with you to the meeting so you can write down the answers to your questions. You might get a form that lists the advice the lawyer gave you, but it's still a good idea to make your own notes.

Gather the information you need

Make the best use of your time with your lawyer by putting together all the information you'll take to your meetings. (You can also download and print this checklist, if you'd rather work from a paper copy.)

Information about you, the other person, and any children

  • A piece of government-issued photo ID, like a driver's licence. (Tell your lawyer if you don't want this information given to anyone else.)
  • Your phone numbers and other contact information.
  • The other person's full name and their address, if you know it.
  • Your citizenship or immigration documents, if you weren't born in Canada.
  • Full names and birth dates of all your children.
  • A list of any health conditions you or your children have and medication any of you need.
  • Details about where you and the other person work.

Information about your case

  • A short summary of your issue. If possible, type it so it's easy to read. Include all the important facts, such as:
    • why you're separating
    • important dates (for example, when you started living together or got married, and when you separated)
    • how many children you have and their ages
    • if you're working and how much you earn
    • if the other person is working and how much they earn
    • where you're living and if you can keep living there without financial support
    • your current arrangements for the children and money
  • All the documents you have that relate to your case, including:
    • any agreements you made with the other person before or after you separated
    • any court orders
    • any new court applications you’ve made or are preparing
  • Notes about what you want to have happen (for example, you want the other person to start paying child support).

Information about your and the other person's finances

  • Your tax returns or summaries for the past three years, if you're going to talk about child or spousal support or property.
  • Copies of the other person's tax returns for the past three years, if you have them.
  • Your most recent pay stub (or proof of Employment Insurance or disability payments).
  • Copies of the other person's pay stubs (or proof of EI or disability payments), if you have them.
  • A list of everything that you and the other person own together or separately, including property, pension plans, RRSPs, TFSAs, or bank accounts (including any that are only in the other person's name), and property (such as the family home, investment property, and personal property).
  • The most recent property tax assessment for your home and any other property either of you own.
  • A list of debts that either or both of you have.

Information about any family violence

  • Details about any physical or psychological abuse in your relationship (if you want a protection order).
  • The business cards or the name and numbers of the police officers you've dealt with (if the police have been involved with your family).
  • A list that explains why you need, or have needed, an order for protection or for custody, guardianship, or parenting arrangements, for example.
Bring support if you need it

Lots of people feel very stressed about meeting with a lawyer. If you can, bring someone to help you take notes or be there for support.