Remember the Scout motto? Be Prepared!
Preparedness is everything, in life and in a divorce. Your most important job is to get yourself ready and positioned for the best possible outcome. Some people think their attorney will do all of the work, but the reality is that your attorney prepares and advises you based on the information that you provide. It’s the same when your CPA prepares your income tax returns based on the information you provide.
Professionals can help educate and guide you, but the success of their work is based largely upon how well you do your part. If you do a bad job, then you will not get your best result.
In order to divorce, you will need to provide certain information. This is true whether you use the information to help negotiate a settlement, or if you end up using it in a court battle. In my experience, the more prepared you are with relevant information, the more likely you will be able to reach an agreement and be confident in the result. If you are unable to settle, then you will be more than ready to make your best case in the courtroom.
In law school, we were taught that we should spend approximately 4 hours outside of the courtroom preparing for every 1 hour we would be in the courtroom. And it’s no different for our clients.
Here’s the basic information you should start gathering. There could be more depending on your individual circumstances.
Financials. It is important to have a good understanding of your financial situation. This includes your property (assets & liabilities) and your income. When I say “your,” I mean “your family.” Your divorce will include equitable division of your property, so it is important to identify what you have and the value. Income information is necessary for many reasons, including understanding your ability to live after the divorce, and to calculate alimony or child support. Here are most common financial documents to be gathered.
Personal property and belongings such as the contents of your home are also important, but to save time, just list those items that you absolutely cannot live without and cannot replace.
Other Documents. There are other pieces of information that are extremely relevant to your divorce. They include:
- Prenuptial Agreement
- List property or items owned by either of you prior to the marriage, or acquired by gift or inheritance during the marriage
- Health (medical, dental, vision) Insurance policies and costs
Living Expenses/Household Budget. In order to be sure of your situation post-divorce, it’s important that you know what it will cost you to live after the divorce. A good place to start is by knowing what it costs you to live now. So be familiar with your utility bills, grocery bills, and other common expenses such as car insurance, health insurance, cell phone, lawn care, child care, etc.
Next, you should consider the best way to get the documents and information you need.
Authored by Cynthia L. Patton, Esq. This blog post is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. You should consult an attorney for specific legal advice.