Things to Bring to Your Attorney
One of the most important things you can do for your case to get the fairest result and to keep fees down is to organize your records.
There are several different things that clients can do to make this process more manageable and effectual.
Save Your Records - Save Your Mail
As soon as you begin to contemplate a divorce or separation (or as soon as your spouse raises the possibility) it is critical that you start saving and organizing your records. Start saving (if you haven’t already) pay stubs, tax returns, bank statements, cancelled checks, credit card bills, pension, 401K and IRA statements and any other financial records. Also, don’t forget about saving receipts for big ticket items. I recommend to my clients that they create folders and label each account or type of record. Don’t staple anything (staples are a bother when these records are later scanned or copied), but do keep them in date order. If you are missing records, try to get them on-line. Don’t wait; banks and other financial institutions only maintain records for fixed periods.
Comprehensive List of All Property
You should make and bring a list of all of all your property.
It is helpful to separate property into specific categories:
Evidence of Property Value
Providing evidence of property value is very important. Courts will make property division decisions based on the value of the property.
Any property of value should be appraised and documented and accompany the larger property list. I can help you hire an appraiser and determine which property should be appraised if you don’t have that documentation.
Marital and Personal Debt
Most divorcing couples have both marital and personal debts. These debts, such as mortgages and other loans, have a significant effect on property value and will be considered during settlement.
You should retain documentation of all of their debts, both personal and joint. This debt will have to be organized and later allocated to the appropriate party to prepare for the divorce proceedings.
Time Lines and Goals
Clients can benefit by formulating time lines and setting goals for their property division and overall divorce settlement. Bringing this information to your attorney will help set the tone and scope for the settlement process.
Each divorce is different but being organized and having good records will save you time and money and will help you and your attorney reach a quicker and fairer result.