Checklist: Issues To Discuss With Your Divorce Attorney

Divorce is complicated -- legally, financially, and emotionally. Dividing up property a couple has acquired throughout their marriage (also known as marital property) can be one of the most contentious aspects of divorce. Luckily, divorce attorneys can help alleviate some of your legal and financial stresses by advocating for a division of property that works in your favor.

If you've decided to retain a divorce attorney, you can help save your attorney time (and save yourself some money) by gathering important legal and financial documents together before meeting with your attorney. Doing this ahead of time gives your attorney an immediate and useful overview of the property and assets likely to be at issue in your case. Most importantly, it allows the two of you to work together to secure your short and long-term interests.

Main Issues to Discuss with Your Divorce Attorney

The checklists below, organized into general categories, can give you an idea of what documents you'll need to gather as well as issues to discuss with your divorce attorney.

Issues Relating to Children

____ Child support

____ Child custody, legal

____ Child custody, physical

____ Visitation with non-custodial parent

____ Grandparent visitation

____ Visitation with stepchildren

____ Health insurance for children

____ Dental insurance for children

____ Uninsured health care costs

____ College education

____ Residence in the marital homestead

____ Beneficiaries of life insurance policies

____ Claiming children as dependents for income tax purposes

____ Religious upbringing of children

Property Issues

____ Equity in homestead

____ Other real property

____ Home furnishings

____ Business assets

____ Professional practices

____ Professional degrees

____ Retirement benefits (pensions, IRAs, 401(k) plans)

____ Estate plan

____ Motor vehicles

____ Recreational vehicles

____ Personal property

____ Savings accounts

____ Stocks, bonds, and funds

____ Compensation for contributions as homemaker

____ Hidden assets

____ Debts

Spousal Support Issues

____ Entitlement to support

____ How much?

____ How long?

____ Continued health care coverage through COBRA

Other Issues

____ Domestic violence

____ Order for protection

____ Child abuse

____ Parental kidnapping

____ Changing your name after divorce

____ Post-divorce nonfinancial support

____ Attorney's fees and expenses

Documents to Have Ready

____ Individual and business income tax returns for the past three to five years (federal, state, and local)

____ Proof of your current income

____ Proof of your spouse's current income

____ Prenuptial agreement

____ Separation agreement

____ Bank statements

____ Certificates of deposit

____ Pension statements

____ Retirement account statements

____ Trusts

____ Stock portfolios

____ Stock options

____ Mortgages

____ Property tax statements

____ Credit card statements

____ Loan documents

____ Utility bills

____ Other bills (e.g. school tuition, unreimbursed medical bills, music lessons for children, etc.)

____ Monthly budget worksheet

____ Completed financial statements

____ Employment contracts

____ Benefits statements

____ Life insurance policies

____ Health insurance policies

____ Homeowner's insurance policies

____ Automobile insurance policies

____ Personal property appraisals

____ Real property appraisals

____ List of personal property (including home furnishings, jewelry, artwork, computers, home office equipment, clothing and furs, etc.)

____ List of property owned by each spouse prior to marriage

____ List of property acquired by each spouse individually by gift or inheritance during the marriage

____ List of contents of safety deposit boxes

____ Wills

____ Living wills

____ Powers of attorney

____ Durable powers of attorney

____ Advance health care directives

As you can see, the above list extensive -- yet, it is not exhaustive. Every divorce is different since every couple enters and leaves a marriage under different circumstances and with different assets. Therefore, to ensure no property is overlooked, it is always a good idea to have an open and frank conversation with your attorney regarding all of the property and assets relevant to your case.

Get Legal Help with Your Divorce

The legal issues involved in a divorce are numerous and complex, which is why it can be daunting to go through a divorce without legal representation. Contact a local divorce attorney who can answer any questions and help guide you through the divorce process.

Next Steps

Contact a qualified divorce attorney to make sure your rights are protected.

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