Preparing to Meet Your Family Law Attorney: What should you bring to your first meeting?

Family law attorneys understand that going through the process of getting a divorce can be quite an ordeal. It is an emotional time that can involve disputes about marital property, child custody, or other personal issues. The process causes people to feel unsafe, to feel like a failure, and to be scared of the unknown. With all of that in mind, family law attorneys do their best to make the process as smooth as possible. However, family law attorneys cannot accomplish their goals without all of the information and documentation required to make fully informed recommendations regarding the course of the divorce and proposals regarding settlement. The earlier in the process that an attorney can assess the relevant information, the better chance that the overall process will move efficiently. Therefore, it is imperative that you come to your initial meeting with your attorney prepared to provide the following:

1. Your personal information including your social security number, date of birth, address, phone number, email address, employer information, and your preferred method of contact;

2. Your spouse’s personal information including his or her name, social security number, date of birth, address, phone number, email address, employer information, and attorney’s information;

3. All premarital agreement documentation;

4. The date of your marriage;

5. The date of your separation;

6. All asset information and documentation, including but not limited to:

a. Information, including title of ownership, value (on date of filing petition for dissolution of marriage), and whether you desire to retain or distribute to your spouse the following assets:

i. Real estate;

ii. Non-retirement accounts, such as bank accounts, credit union accounts, and stock/brokerage accounts;

iii. Retirement/Pretax accounts, such as individual retirement accounts, 401(k) accounts, 403(b) accounts, profit sharing plans, employment benefits, bonds, and whole life insurance;

iv. Vehicles, such as automobiles, boats and trailers, motorcycles, four wheelers, and watercrafts;

v. Jewelry;

vi. Personal property; and

vii. Businesses.

7. All debt information and documentation, including but not limited to:

a. Information, including title of ownership, value (on date of filing petition for dissolution of marriage), and whether your desire to retain or distribute to your spouse the following debts or liabilities:

i. Secured debts, such as mortgages and car loans;

ii. Unsecured debts, such as credit cards; and

iii. All other liabilities, such as medical bills, judgements, and student loans.

In addition, if there are minor children of the marriage, you should provide the following:

1. The minor children’s personal information including their names, social security numbers, and dates of birth;

2. Your last three (3) pay stubs;

3. The number of subsequent born or prior born children, if any;

4. Proof of spousal maintenance payments, if any;

5. Documentation for child care expenses; and

6. Health insurance premiums showing the amount that you pay for the children of the marriage.

Once your family law attorney has all of this information and documentation, he or she will be prepared to be your greatest advocate during this difficult process. Ultimately, your family law attorney will be able to analyze your specific situation and work with you to prepare a proposal to be sent to the opposing party and guide you through the remainder of the divorce process. 

For questions regarding a divorce contact a member of Barrett McNagny's Family and Domestic Law group.

About the Author:

Sadie L. Dillon-Baatz Concentrates her practice in the area of domestic and family law. She assists clients with dissolutions, adoptions, custody disputes, child support issues, and handles adoptions including private, agency and foster adoptions. She can be reached at (260) 423-8914 or at sld@barrettlaw.com

Barrett McNagny LLP

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