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The Divorce Process: Preparing for Your First Meeting with a Divorce Attorney

In the first article of this series about the divorce process, we discussed the different methods of divorce and how to decide which divorce method is right for you. In this second installment, we discuss what you should bring to your first meeting with your divorce attorney to help make it as productive as possible.

Before your first meeting with a divorce attorney, consider bringing with you information about the items below, applicable to you and your spouse. While it is not necessary to have all of this information prior to your first meeting, it can be helpful to an introductory discussion with your lawyer.

  • Educational background
  • Criminal record
  • Domestic violence history
  • History of drugs and/or alcohol use
  • Each party’s current residence if living separately and sleeping arrangements if living together in the same house
  • Employment history, including the dates of employment, nature of employment and salary history
  • Information about the children born to the marriage, including dates of birth, names and any health or educational issues
  • Prior marriages and any obligations flowing from them (e.g., alimony or child support, custody, parenting time agreements)
  • Any prior agreements
  • Source(s) of income
  • Life, health and disability insurance coverages
  • List of assets (note for each item the date the asset was acquired, the source of funds and how the account is titled)
    • Stocks and bonds
    • Cash accounts
    • Real estate assets
    • Business interests
    • Partnership interests
    • Tax returns (both personal and business) and tax-related documents (e.g., 1099s, K1s)
    • Probate documents
    • Real estate and personal property appraisals
    • Stock options vested/unvested/restricted
    • Deferred compensation
    • Financial loan applications
    • Retirement accounts or other defined benefit plans (e.g., 401k, 403b, IRA accounts)
    • Government pensions or military pensions
  • List of debts
    • Credit card (including account number and name of debtor)
    • Student loan debt
    • Mortgage debt
    • Auto debt
    • Bankruptcy filings
  • List of current living expenses for yourself and any child(ren)
    • Residence including rent or mortgage and utilities
    • Food, clothing and shelter
    • Medical, dental, mental health
    • Educational special needs
    • Extracurricular activities (e.g., sports, camps, music, other lessons)
    • Life, medical and dental insurance
    • Car loans or lease, gas, upkeep, insurance, tags
    • Vacations
    • Personal expenses such as haircuts, make-up
    • Pet expenses
    • Charitable contributions
  • Additional miscellaneous information
    • Workman’s compensation awards
    • Personal injury awards
    • Disability awards
    • Marriage counselors
    • Children’s counselors/therapists
    • Party’s counselors/therapists, if separate from marriage counselor

By gathering as much of this information as possible, you will maximize the productivity of your first meeting with your divorce lawyer, allowing him or her to begin to help you make short- and long-term decisions for your case and beyond.