Sunday, January 2, 2011

10 Things to Do to Prepare for Divorce

At this time of year, many people start thinking seriously about filing for divorce. When you decide you need to see an attorney to discuss that prospect, here's a list of things that are helpful to attorneys when they are getting an overview of your case.

  • Personal household budget with supporting documents. Your attorney needs to know the average monthly amounts for all of your usual expenses. Copies of the latest statement for each bill would be helpful.
  • Income tax returns. Please provide the complete returns, with all schedules and attachments, for the last 3 years.
  • TAD appraisal. You can get and print off the latest appraisal of your real estate from the Tarrant Appraisal District on line.
  • Bank account statements. It is helpful to have your bank records for the last 3 years for every bank account of any type, checking or savings or other, for you, your spouse and your children. You can probably download those from your banks or go to the bank and get them. You need information for every account that you or your spouse have a connection with.
  • Pay stubs. You should bring pay stubs for you and your spouse for the last 6 months, or some other record showing the pay checks for that time period.
  • List of debts. Please prepare a list of all the debts you are aware of, including but not limited to, mortgage, car loans, leases, credit cards and other loans. The list should include the total balance for each and the monthly payment amounts.
  • Medical insurance card and information. Please bring a copy of your insurance card and any information you have about the policy, specifically about the coverage and cost.
  • Personal property information. It helps to have a list of the personal property (such as furniture, household items, personal effects, etc.) that you want on an immediate and temporary basis. Think about what you need every day.
  • Internet presence. Please make a list of all web sites and social media sites used by you and your spouse, and the names and passwords, if you know them. This should include Facebook, YouTube, My Space, LinkedIn, Twitter and other sites, including any blogs. Do a Google search on yourself and your spouse and then download the results.
  • Special needs. Please tell your attorney if there are any special needs that you or a family member have.
If you bring all this information to your first meeting with a lawyer about a divorce, you will be much more helpful to the attorney and much better prepared for court or negotiations.

Bonus item: If you can think about what you would like to end up with and what your goals would be, that can be a very big help for you and your attorney. Take a little time and bring some ideas in writing. Everyone can benefit from planning ahead.

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