Getting married is one of those life events that triggers a new set of legal needs and warrants a reassessment of some of the legal preparations for your future that you may have already made. Unfortunately, life sometimes doesn't go as we had planned. In the event of a divorce or other domestic legal dispute, you'll want the best possible representation from your family law attorney.
How Can I Assist My Family Law Attorney?
One way you can assist in that process is to provide your lawyer with all the relevant documents he or she needs to represent you. Before the process begins, your lawyer will need documents related to you family’s finances. These will include income tax returns and documents proving other forms of income. Additionally, you'll want to have copies of all documents related to any marital debt, assets, and property values.
Also, prenuptial, postnuptial or separation agreements are vital to your case. If you have previously made certain agreements with your spouse in writing, those agreements should be one of the first documents you provide to your attorney.
Start by gathering these documents together and making copies to keep in a safe place such as in a large folder or envelope. Your lawyer will likely request the following items at your client meeting.
Check off each item as you gather the documents. If it does not apply to your situation, write in N/A.
____ Individual income tax returns for past three to five years (federal, state, and local)
____ Business income tax returns for past three to five years (federal, state, and local)
____ Proof of your current income
____ Proof or spouse’s current income
____ Prenuptial agreement, if already drafted
____ Divorce decrees from previous marriages
____ Bank statements
____ Certificates of deposit
____ Pension statements
____ Retirement account statements
____ Stock portfolios
____ Stock options
____ Property tax statements
____ Credit card statements
____ Loan documents
____ Utility bills
____ Other bills (e.g., school tuition, unreimbursed medical bills, 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 contents of safety deposit boxes
_____ Living Wills
____ Powers of Attorney
____ Durable Powers of Attorney
____ Advance Health Care Directives
Hiring a Family Law Attorney
If you or a loved one are going through a divorce or other legal family law-related legal dispute, you may need to consult an experienced family law attorney. A skilled lawyer who specializes in handling domestic matters such as divorce or child custody will evaluate all the facts, including all legal documents, to ensure that your rights are protected. Plus, it's important to speak to a lawyer familiar with the laws in your jurisdiction. Most offer free consultations, so your first step should be to contact an experienced family law attorney.