As you are planning your first visit with your divorce attorney, it is a good idea to do some divorce planning. We are committed to representing your interests. To do so adequately, we ask that you gather together the following documents and bring them with you to our first meeting.
If a divorce has already been initiated, do not despair. Divorce planning can still take place. If either you or your spouse filed an order for protection, please bring a copy of that order – and the temporary order. In cases where your spouse has filed for divorce, please bring copies of the papers served on you. Perhaps you originally filed for a divorce on your own behalf. Many people quickly realize the benefits of having an experienced divorce attorney represent you. Please bring the paperwork you filed in court.
In cases where you or your spouse is subject to a previous court order regarding child support or alimony, please bring a copy of the court order to the meeting.
Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreements
Any written agreement with your spouse, either before or after the marriage, addressing the division of property, child custody arrangements, or other matters pertaining to a potential separation, may be legally binding on the parties. Please bring those documents. If amended, it is helpful to have copies of all versions of the documents.
Documentation to Support a Request for Child Support or Alimony
If you have children and want to request child support we (and later, the court) will require documentation of income for both you and your spouse. In addition, this documentation is necessary if you intend to request support. This documentation should include the following:
- Individual tax returns
- Business tax returns
- Recent pay stubs
- Bank statements that reflect income and expenses
Additionally, a family budget reflecting regular expenses or particular needs of any family members is helpful.
Divorce planning sometimes requires some detective work. Does your spouse work for cash? Do they work as a bartender or waitress? Perhaps your spouse performs side jobs for friends and family. In that case, we may require additional information. Does your spouse traditionally deposit this cash into a savings account? Use it to pay for entertainment? Knowing where the money goes can assist in determining the actual amount your spouse is earning.
A List of Marital and Non-Marital Assets
“Assets” are defined as any property that has value. Couples vary in their assets. They include the family home, as well as vacation homes. Boats, ATV’s and motorcycles are assets. Smaller things, such as your cookware, your furniture, and your linens are also assets. Power tools are assets that can have very high value. Power tools, in particular are an often-overlooked asset by a spouse that doesn’t routinely use power tools. Detailed divorce planning requires a careful evaluation of the contents of the home and garage. Finally, do not overlook your savings accounts, stocks, and bonds.
Assets can be either marital or non-marital property. Typically, marital property refers to all property acquired by the couple during the marriage. Of course, there can be exceptions to this, which we will discuss below. Marital property is subject to division, either by agreement, or by order of the court.
“Non-marital property” is a legal term that can refer to property obtained a few different ways. For example, property that one party owned prior to the marriage may be considered non-marital property. Additionally, if one spouse inherits property or receives a gift that the gift-er intended for the individual and not the couple, this can be non-marital property. This is true even if the gift was received during the marriage.
However, this is not the end of the analysis. You should not presume that just because one spouse owned some property prior to the marriage that it will always legally be non-marital property. Similarly, depending on how the inheritance is handled, it may become marital property. We can assist you in determining whether property is marital or non-marital, based on the specific facts and circumstances of your case, consistent with the laws in the state of Maryland.
A List of All Debts
Make a list of all debts both you and your spouse have. It is important that the list be complete. A complete list should include debts in either your name or your spouse’s name, as well as debts in both your names.
Documentation of All Retirement Accounts
If you or your spouse will receive a pension from a current or past job, you should obtain the details of that pension. Don’t forget about military pensions. In addition, retirement accounts may include any or all of the following:
- SEP IRAs
- Roth IRAs
- Health Savings Accounts
- Deferred Compensation accounts
Information Regarding Your Children
If you have children, provide your attorney with information about them up front. Your attorney will require vital statistics about the children. This includes full name, date of birth, and their Social Security Numbers. If your child has special needs, bring documentation of this. If an adult child under the age of 26, is currently receiving health insurance through one of the parents, include them on the list.
Information About Potential Hidden Assets
On occasion, a party to a divorce may attempt to hide some of their assets from their spouse. If you suspect your spouse may be hiding assets, a detailed explanation of your reasons for your suspicions will assist us.
If You Are Considering a Divorce
Divorce, it can seem overwhelming. Filing for, and proceeding with, a divorce can be exhausting. We have over 50 years of combined experience practicing family law. Let us help begin to calm the storm. With our experience and your advanced divorce planning, we can work together to quickly come to a resolution. Contact our office at (505) 728-7799 to discuss the facts and circumstances of your case.