Divorce is messy, sad and often painful. It affects every aspect of your
life. Asking questions important to you during your initial consultation
with a divorce attorney/mediator
is key to navigating your path to a successful divorce and hiring the right
person to guide you through this complex process!
Preparing for your divorce consultation is an important first step.
When spouses call to schedule their free consultations, in order to maximize
their time with me, we suggest they prepare the following:
A List of Questions
Think about what is important for you to know. The reason you go to a divorce
attorney/mediator is so you are properly educated and to learn all the
options available to you. There is more than one way to get a divorce.
Therefore, no question is too small or trivial. It is important that you
are well informed. So make a list of the questions that are important
to you and your family.
Consider what you would like after your divorce. People get divorced and
hope to move on with their lives in as positive a way as possible. Considering
how you wish to do this is important.
If for example, you have no desire to stay in the marital home but would
like to see your children at least twice a week, it is important the attorney
knows what you want from the get-go. This way they’ll be able to
represent you to the best of their abilities.
Start Gathering Asset Information
Current statements for all checking accounts, savings accounts, credit
card statements, and other deposit accounts. Include cash if you or your
spouse hold significant cash, such as in a safety deposit box.
List stocks, bonds, investments, mutual funds, secured notes, and other
liquid and non-liquid investments.
Copies of all documents showing how title is held and most recent statements,
plus a copy of statements as close to the date of separation as possible.
If a security is held in certificate form, provide a copy of the certificate.
Also, provide the cost basis of each security/investment owned. (Cost
basis is needed on all non-retirement account assets.)
Retirement accounts and Pensions and Deferred Compensation Plans: (401k,
defined benefit and defined contribution plans). Provide a copy of the
latest summary plan documents (with terms and conditions of the plan)
and most recent benefit statements plus the statement as near as possible
to the date of separation.
Any copies of deeds to property, mortgages or equity loans are something
your attorney may need. Division of property is an essential part of the
process, so disclosing this is very helpful to a divorce lawyer.
Pull together your tax returns. This is usually standard. Lawyers will
most likely request the last 3 years of tax returns from a client, so
you should be prepared. Tax returns are used in conjunction with pay stubs
and other evidence in the calculation of spousal and child support.
Also provide copies of checks or records of tax refunds if received individually
by either party before or after separation. If you expect a refund but
haven’t filed your returns yet, provide a copy of your extensions.
Spousal Support and Child Support are calculated by income including what
you and your partner earn and therefore evidence of this aids the attorney
in assessing whether you are entitled to or should be giving spousal and
child support and how much.
Gathering pay stubs, bank statements and credit card statements is a good
first step. There may be debt from the marriage and there may be substantial
assets sitting in accounts. Either way, it is important that these are
fully disclosed to your attorney so that they can assist you with the
resolution. Reviewing bank statements and credit card statements is very
useful. I often recommend that clients summarize these so that I am able
to get an accurate overview as quickly as possible.
Job benefits are often ignored but are, in my experience, a prevalent part
of any divorce settlement. Consider:
a. employee benefits
b. retirement plans
d. life insurance
e. health insurance
Life and Disability Insurance Policies
Provide declaration pages showing face amount, date, type of policy, insured,
owner, beneficiary (ies), cash value and/or loan value. If a policy is
term without cash value, you should collect the documents showing the
death benefit, beneficiary and premium and whether it is an individual
policy or a policy through your employer.
You don’t need all of this for your initial consultation, but getting
everything together and being familiar with what exists puts you in the
If you are ready to take the first step towards your divorce, call me.
I will help you put your checklist together and answer all your questions.
For over 35 years I have been successfully helping divorcing spouses to
find the best path to divorce. I will help you too!
Schedule your FREE 1 hour consultation to learn more…
All consultations and mediation sessions are still conveniently conducted virtually.
I look forward to speaking with you.
Lois Brenner is referred to as the “Lawyer's Lawyer” and
is recognized for handling sophisticated and complex cases discretely
and creatively, including those involving high net worth individuals,
business owners and executives, lawyers, doctors, celebrities, and public figures.
Call New York Divorce Lawyer, Lois Brenner now to schedule your free consultation