Checklist: Issues To Discuss With Your Divorce Attorney

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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

____ 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

____ Entitlement to support

____ Continued health care coverage through COBRA

____ Domestic violence

____ Order for protection

____ Child abuse

____ Parental kidnapping

____ Restoration of maiden name

____ Post-divorce nonfinancial support

____ Attorney’s fees and expenses

____ 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;

____ Stock portfolios;

____ Stock options;

____ 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;

____ 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.

For more information on marital property division, free to check out FindLaw’s section on divorce and property. If you have more general questions, you may want to check out FindLaw’s divorce section. Finally, if you do not yet have one, consider retaining a local divorce attorney.

Request a Free Case Review with a Divorce Attorney

The legal issues involved in a divorce are numerous and complex. Finding a trustworthy and competent attorney is key. You must also muster the diligence and courage to collect and to share all your private financial information with your divorce attorney. A great place to start is to immediately see an experienced divorce attorney for a free initial case evaluation to begin the process.

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