If you contact us (or any other family law attorney), you should go into your first consultation with the understanding that you and your attorney are a team. In other words, everyone has to put in an effort. Nothing would make us happier than to meet with you and send you on your way after giving you a promise that we will handle everything. However, that is not a complete reflection of the lawyer-client relationship.
When you hire us, we will need many documents from you. Sometimes, we receive pushback from clients during this conversation. One of the things we would like to make known is that when we ask for documentation, it is not a random ask, but it is part of a strategic legal move. There are laws behind many of our requests, and based on our years of experience, we know that the court will ask for them and we know what is necessary to move your case forward.
Time to Get Started
The more information your attorney has, the better position they will be in to represent you. If you have reached out to an attorney to schedule a consultation, you may be anxious to get started in the interim. Begin by collecting any marriage agreements, such as pre and post-nuptial agreements. This also extends to any estate planning documents you and your spouse created, such as trusts, wills, and powers of attorney.
Outside of working through child custody issues, splitting your assets is one of the most significant hurdles you will face. Your attorney has to have an accurate picture of what you and your spouse own. This includes separate and community assets. Get started by listing everything you own.
- Bank accounts (checkings and savings) and credit card statements
- Retirement accounts and life insurance policies
- Titles for your own and any cars that you own
- Deeds for property
In addition to your assets, your attorney needs to know how much debt you and your spouse have taken on together. Get copies of the paperwork if you have any outstanding loans, such as a car or mortgage payment. Although you and your spouse must disclose your assets fully, that doesn’t mean everyone will be willing to comply. (There are serious consequences for hiding assets, and you should be completely honest with your attorney about what you own.) If, for example, you suspect your spouse is withholding assets, what do you have that proves your point?
If you and your spouse have been filing joint tax returns, get copies of them—for as many years as possible. There’s no such thing as too much information. At best, it will give your attorney an accurate picture of how much money has been coming into the marital home, and at worst, they will say they don’t need it at the moment.
Speak with a Compassionate & Experienced Family Law Attorney
The initial stages of divorce are overwhelming, but we understand what you are going through. Although you will be asked to gather documents, you will never be alone during this process. Child custody and dividing your assets may seem like monumental tasks, but we will guide you through them. Contact ZafiroLaw to schedule your consultation.