When you decide that you want a divorce or if your spouse makes that decision for you, then you need to be ready to defend yourself in the litigation. One of the best ways to save time and money is for you to be properly prepared when you meet with your prospective attorney for your initial divorce consultation. You need to know what to bring to your initial divorce consultation. Below, you will find a list of items to bring to your initial divorce consultation that our law firm has utilized for years. I believe that you will find it a helpful place to start.
1) Timeline: Compile a timeline of events in chronological order to illustrate the history of your relationship, marriage, separation, and ultimate break up of your marriage.
2) Witness List: Compile a list of witnesses including their names, addresses, phone numbers, your relationship to them (how do you know them), and what they know (first-hand knowledge, not hearsay.)
3) Property List: Compile a list of all of your property, both real property (land/homes), and personal property (cars, furniture, electronics, jewelry, etc.) including how said property is owned and its approximate value. List your separate property, i.e. property that was owned prior to the marriage, that was inherited by you, or that was a gift to you from your spouse or another person in one list. List your marital property, i.e. property that was purchased during the marriage.
4) Property Plan: Devise a plan for the division of both your real and personal property that you feel is fair and equitable to both you and your spouse.
5) Debt List: Compile a list of both your separate and marital debts. Separate debts would be those incurred prior to the marriage or after your permanent separation. Marital debts would be those incurred during the marriage prior to your separation. A debt can be a marital debt even if it is only in the name of one spouse if the debt was incurred during the marriage. Devise a plan for the division of your marital debt that you feel is fair and equitable to both you and your spouse.
6) Parenting Plan: Devise a plan for the custody and visitation arrangements between you, your spouse, and the children that you believe is in your children’s best interest.
7) Tax Returns: Obtain a copy of your income tax returns for the last three (3) years including all schedules, W-2 forms, and 1099’s.
8) Net Worth Statements: If you have been required to file any financial or net worth statements in the last five (5) years for the purpose of securing a loan or line of credit, you will need to furnish a copy of such financial or net worth statements.
9) Retirement Plan: If you are a participant in any profit sharing, pension or retirement plan that is afforded you by your employer, please contact the bookkeeper, plan administrator, or person responsible for maintenance of such program and request from them a copy of the summary plan description, a statement as to your current interest in such plan, and its monetary value.
10) Employee Benefit Plans: If you are a participant in an employee stock ownership or option plan, a deferred compensation plan or other form of employee benefits plan, please provide a copy of the benefit plan.
11) Real Estate Legal Description: If you or your spouse has any interest in any real estate, list the address of each such parcel and secure a copy of the legal description for each parcel of real estate. It is important to have a complete legal description for each parcel of real estate since it will be involved in your divorce proceeding and later will be included in pertinent legal documents.
12) Real Estate Appraisal: If any property has been appraised for any reason within the last three (3) years, such as for insurance, mortgage loan or contemplation of sale, please furnish a copy of the appraisal.
13) Life Insurance: Please furnish information concerning all life insurance policies. Please provide the name of the insurance company, the face amount of the policy, the policy number, the owner of the policy, the beneficiary, annual premium, and the terms and conditions of such policy.
14) Financial Information: Please provide a list of all checking accounts, savings accounts, certificates of deposit, credit union accounts, safety deposit boxes, IRA’s, stocks, bonds, businesses owned, pensions, profit-sharing accounts, annuities, and government benefits.
A divorce is traumatic for everyone involved, the entire family. I remember what it was like for me when my parents got divorced. However, you can make things easier on yourself and on your children if you focus on the solution and not on the problem. Get to work on getting the divorce process off to a good start and get it successfully completed. Once the divorce process is over, you will be able to begin to move on with your life.