What To Bring to Your First AppointmentDecember 8, 2011 • By Michele Sacks Lowenstein
In last month’s column, you learned how to interview attorneys to represent you in a divorce.
Once you have set an appointment, you need prepare for that interview in order to get the most bang for your buck when you and the attorney meet. The attorney must have a basic understanding of the facts of your case, and the marital assets and debts.
Here’s a guideline to prepare for this meeting.
Think of your tax returns as the map to a treasure trove. They show much more information than merely the amount of money you and your spouse make.
These returns can lead the attorney to pension plans, investment accounts, and other assets. The tax returns may also assist the attorney in determining how much alimony and child support you might receive, or might have to pay.
It is helpful to provide the attorney with the last three years of tax returns.
If you or your spouse have a pension plan, Individual Retirement Account, or 401(k) plan, bring the most recent statement from those plans.
The attorney can review the statements and determine the amount of money deposited into the plans over the past year, and also see if any of the deposits are employer contributions or are mandatory employee contributions.
That will have a bearing on the support issue.
Bank Statements and Investment Statements
Provide the attorney with your most recent statements for all bank accounts, including checking and savings accounts, money market accounts and certificates of deposit.
If you or your spouse have any credit union accounts, these statements will also contain information about loans you have through the credit union.
If you or your spouse have direct deposits of pay checks, military retirement payments or social security, this will also appear in the monthly bank statements.
Provide at least the last three pay stubs to the attorney.
The pay stubs will show if you and/or your spouse receive any bonuses or commissions.
They will also show whether you or your spouse are compensated for expenses such as mileage, meals, or cellular phone.
Pay stubs reflect health benefits and cafeteria-type plans, and retirement deductions taken from your pay on a regular basis.
The pay stubs will also give the attorney specific detailed financial information to calculate the amount of alimony and child support.
Provide all deeds, mortgage statements, and escrow papers for all property you and your spouse currently own. The same documentation should be provided for property you owned in the past.
Meeting with an attorney can be an apprehensive and unsettling experience.
Write down any questions or concerns you have prior to your appointment. This list will help you to remain on track during the consultation and assist you in obtaining answers.
To make the most of your consultation, so you can make the necessary decisions regarding representation in your divorce, you must be prepared and focused for this meeting.
Note: This information is not to be considered legal advice to create an attorney-client relationship. Laws and practices vary from state to state. Taking legal information out of context generally has negative consequences. If you have questions relating to your particular matter, you should contact an attorney in your state for advice.