A frequent question people seeking a divorce ask us is what to bring with them to their first appointment. This document discusses what you should bring in a perfect world, that is, if you have access to everything listed. If you do not have all of these documents, your spouse has them, or you simply don’t know where they are, don’t worry. We will help you gather all of the information you need as we take you through the divorce process.
The Documents to Bring (if You Have Them)
- Prenuptial Agreement
If you have a prenuptial agreement with your spouse, it is important that you bring it to the first meeting with your divorce attorney. Your lawyer will review the agreement and determine if there are any weak spots that can be attacked. In addition, the agreement will help establish any areas that are already defined for you and your soon to be ex-spouse.
- Real Estate
You should bring copies of all documents related to real estate holdings. This would include deeds and mortgage statements. If you are renting, it would be wise to bring the lease so your lawyer can help you establish any potential liability under that lease. If, while you were married, you sold any property, you should bring records about that as well.
- Tax Returns
Tax returns show a great deal of information about both your and your spouse’s financial status. It is common for spouses not to know all details of each other’s finances, and tax returns can help put your lawyer on the trail of all sorts information, such as investment accounts and pension plans. In addition, these returns will help your attorney analyze support payments you may pay or receive. Try to bring returns going back three to five years.
- Pension Plans or Retirement Accounts
Bring any information you have about pension plans or retirement accounts. Division of retirement accounts can be complex due to the laws that surround these types of financial vehicles. Any documentation you have about your or your spouse’s plans will help your attorney determine how much you may be entitled to receive or how much you may have to pay out to your spouse upon retirement. These accounts may have an impact on support as well.
- Bank Statements
As with tax returns, bank statements can be a treasure trove of information about your and your spouse’s finances. You should bring statements going back three to five years. This would include checking, savings, money market, CDs, investment account statements, and so on. If you have information about safety deposit boxes being held at any bank, bring that information as well. You don’t need to bring the keys, just information about the boxes. If you know anything about what might be in the boxes, note that as well.
- Pay Stubs
If you have access to your spouse’s pay stubs, bring copies. Bring your pay stubs as well. Pay stubs can show information beyond how much your or your spouse’s wages might be. They also include information about bonuses, benefits (including health insurance), and other details. Pay stubs are critical to helping calculate alimony and/or child support.
- Collections and Valuable Items
If you or your spouse has specific items of exceptional value such, it is a good idea to note them and any information you have on them.
- Your Own Notes
Prior to meeting with your attorney, write notes that address your own questions and concerns. It is easy, during an initial meeting, to forget what you wanted to ask. If you write down your thoughts ahead of time, you can be certain to make the best use of your time. This will help both you and your attorney stay focused on the relevant issues that you need to discuss.
Contact Us to Discuss Your Divorce
If you are considering a divorce, contact Alexis and Jessica to discuss your options. When you come to meet with us during your initial consultation, if you have any of the documents we have identified and bring them with you, we can be certain to have an efficient first meeting. Remember, if you do not have all of the documents listed, that is ok. Just bring whatever you happen to have. If you don’t have access to any documents, that is ok too. We will do the work necessary to get the information we need. What matters is that we are here to help you through your divorce in the best and most efficient way we can.