Dissolution of Marriage

 Dissolution of Marriage

Preparing for your first meeting with the Attorney

During a marriage, a husband and wife become very intertwined — they buy many things together, such as homes, cars, businesses, etc.; they have children together; they list each other as the beneficiary on wills and life insurance; they share joint bank accounts, credit cards, loans, and invest in money together; and they pool their income and save for retirement. It is extremely important when preparing to dissolve a marriage that you provide your attorney with complete and correct information regarding the property, income, living expenses, and debts of you or your spouse. Incorrect or incomplete information could lead to an unjust court decision (for example, as to the division of property and debt), continued ownership of property with your spouse, and considerable confusion and delay.

In preparing for your first meeting with the attorney, you should gather as much information as possible about your separate and joint property, income, living expenses, and debts. The following list can help you think about and prepare the information that you will need:

  • Important personal identification information, such as your social security number, driver's license number, date of birth, date of marriage, date of separation, etc.
  • Current statements, bills, and/or invoices for all of your debts and liabilities, such as car loans, utility bills, property taxes, mortgages, insurance, etc. These should include debts and liabilities held jointly by you and your spouse, and those held by you and your spouse serperately.
  • A list of current debts (charge accounts, dental, hospital, or doctor bills, furniture payments, etc.). Include what the bill is for and when the last payment was made.
  • Documentation of property you and your spouse own jointly or separately, such as statements, deeds, real estate contracts, titles to vehicles or vehicle registrations (including automobiles, boats, trailers, motorcycles, etc.).
  • Savings passbooks, stock certificates, bonds, and savings certificates.
  • If you own your business, bring an income statement and balance sheet for the business.
  • Any written Community Property Agreement you have with your spouse.
  • A list of personal property that should be considered in the division of property. For example, there may be items such as televisions, tools, furniture, appliances, kitchenware, family heirlooms, pictures, etc., that should be distributed equitably between the two of you.
  • Current paystubs for both spouses and your tax returns for at least the past two years.
  • Pension, profit sharing, and retirement information, including yearly statements showing the value of interest in the plan, and a copy of the plan summary.
  • Descriptions of any job benefits provided by employers.
  • Life, disability, and health insurance policies (including policy numbers, name, and address of company, cash surrender value, and name of beneficiary).
  • Any other information that you think is important or relevant to the dissolution proceeding.

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