Be Prepared When Seeking A Divorce

Divorce is complicated – legally, financially, and emotionally. Dividing up property a couple has acquired throughout their marriage (also known as marital property) can be one of the most contentious aspects of divorce. Luckily, divorce attorneys can help alleviate some of your legal and financial stresses by advocating for a division of property that works in your favor.

If you have decided to retain a divorce attorney, you can help save your attorney time (and save yourself some money) by gathering important legal and financial documents together before meeting with your attorney. Doing this ahead of time gives your attorney an immediate and useful overview of the property and assets likely to be at issue in your case. Most importantly, it allows the two of you to work together to secure your short and long-term interests. The checklists below can give you and idea of what topics and documents come up in discussions with a divorce attorney.

Be Prepared to Discuss

  • Issues Relating to Children____ Child support____ Child custody, legal

    ____ Child custody, physical

    ____ Visitation with non-custodial parent

    ____ Grandparent visitation

    ____ Visitation with stepchildren

    ____ Health insurance for children

    ____ Dental insurance for children

    ____ Uninsured health care costs

    ____ College education

    ____ Residence in the marital homestead

    ____ Beneficiaries of life insurance policies

    ____ Claiming children as dependents for income tax purposes

    ____ Religious upbringing of children

  • Property Issues____ Equity in homestead____ Other real property

    ____ Home furnishings

    ____ Business assets

    ____ Professional practices

    ____ Professional degrees

    ____ Retirement benefits (pensions, IRAs, 401(k) plans)

    ____ Motor vehicles

    ____ Recreational vehicles

    ____ Personal property

    ____ Savings accounts

    ____ Stocks, bonds, and funds

    ____ Compensation for contributions as homemaker

    ____ Hidden assets

    ____ Debts

  • Spousal Support Issues____ Entitlement to support____ How much?

    ____ How long?

    ____ Continued health care coverage through COBRA

  • Other Issues____ Domestic violence____ Order for protection

    ____ Child abuse

    ____ Parental kidnapping

    ____ Restoration of maiden name

    ____ Post-divorce nonfinancial support

    ____ Attorney’s fees and expenses

  • Documents to Have Ready____ Individual and business income tax returns for the past three to five years (federal, state, and local);____ Proof of your current income;

    ____ Proof of your spouse’s current income;

    ____ Prenuptial agreement;

    ____ Separation agreement;

    ____ Bank statements;

    ____ Certificates of deposit;

    ____ Pension statements;

    ____ Retirement account statements;

    ____ Trusts;

    ____ Stock portfolios;

    ____ Stock options;

    ____ Mortgages;

    ____ Property tax statements;

    ____ Credit card statements;

    ____ Loan documents;

    ____ Utility bills;

    ____ Other bills (e.g. school tuition, unreimbursed medical bills, music lessons for children, etc.);

    ____ Monthly budget worksheet;

    ____ Completed financial statements;

    ____ Employment contracts;

    ____ Benefits statements;

    ____ Life insurance policies;

    ____ Health insurance policies;

    ____ Homeowner’s insurance policies;

    ____ Automobile insurance policies;

    ____ Personal property appraisals;

    ____ Real property appraisals;

    ____ List of personal property (including home furnishings, jewelry, artwork, computers, home office equipment, clothing and furs, etc.);

    ____ List of property owned by each spouse prior to marriage;

    ____ List of property acquired by each spouse individually by gift or inheritance during the marriage;

    ____ List of contents of safety deposit boxes;

    ____ Wills;

    ____ Living wills;

    ____ Powers of attorney;

    ____ Durable powers of attorney; and

    ____ Advance health care directives.

As you can see, the above list extensive — yet, it is not exhaustive. Every divorce is different since every couple enters and leaves a marriage under different circumstances and with different assets. Therefore, to ensure no property is overlooked, it is always a good idea to have an open and frank conversation with your attorney regarding all of the property and assets relevant to your case.

If you require the immediate services of a highly experienced and aggressive attorney, please call for a FREE CONSULTATION


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