Divorce is an extremely painful subject to think about. However, a little foresight on your part can help you guarantee the best outcome for you and your family.
Before you consult an attorney, you should come prepared. Having every bit of information the attorney will use to formulate your case is very useful. It can reduce the time spent scrambling to find vital information at the last minute. By gathering these 40 pieces of information ahead of time, you enable your attorney to formulate a robust and airtight case in your defence.
At Guardian Law, we have family law attorneys with decades of combined experience in matters of divorce. Thus, we wrote this comprehensive guide to help you account for every piece of required information our divorce attorneys want to see when you show up.
Why You Should Hire A Divorce Attorney
First off, if you’re balking at the idea of assembling all this information ahead of time, do not fret. You will need to document it anyways, it’s essential to the divorce process. The real reason why you want a divorce attorney is that they will save you a lot of time putting a sophisticated legal argument together. More than likely, you won’t have enough knowledge of the law to be able to compete with your ex-spouse’s lawyer anyways.
It doesn’t matter how much the lawyer’s bill costs, you will likely save a lot more by avoiding errors. You’re not a lawyer, so don’t pretend to be one.
Before You Talk To The Divorce Attorney
So, before you sit down for your first meeting with your divorce attorney and kick off the divorce proceedings, you’ll need to offer them the following categories of information:
- Personal Information
- Children and Custody
- Legal History To Date
- Financial Information
- Health Information
- Preferences Regarding Your Divorce
Some of this information, like the financial assets, will need to be documented very clearly, with evidence provided for every point. If it’s discovered that you or your partner are withholding vital information, that could make the divorce proceedings a lot more drawn out, and cause a lot of pain for whichever party lied or misrepresented themselves
Your lawyer can start drafting a separation agreement in much clearer terms than any non-lawyer could, and that’s just the first step. They can also help alleviate conflict in other ways by communicating from lawyer to lawyer. This helps ensure cooler heads prevail.
Here is an account of the personal information you need.
- Full legal names of both spouses.
- Date and place of marriage.
- Date of separation.
- Contact information for both spouses, such as email and phone number
- Current addresses and contact information for both spouses. You also need to prove that you are a resident, using your driver’s license, health card, or past utilities is a good way to do this.
- Occupation and employment information for both spouses.
- Social Insurance Numbers (SIN) for both spouses.
- Citizenship or immigration status of both spouses. This could be a factor if one or both spouses is a permanent resident, for instance.
- List the issues that you believe led to the divorce. Include all information you can think of regarding individual differences, abuse, addictions, and more.
Children and Custody
If you have children, this might be the most relevant aspect of your divorce. Here are the points you should write down for the lawyer.
- Names and birthdates of any children from the marriage. You should also mention any step-children, even if it won’t relate directly to custody or child support.
- Current living arrangements for the children, who has custody, and so on. You should discuss any other family members or legal guardians who often take care of your children.
- Child support arrangements, if any. You might want to include the amount of money you would need to provide for your kids independently.
- Information about any child custody disputes or concerns regarding the child. For instance, if they have health or psychological issues that deserve mentioning.
- Make sure you indicate who provides health insurance for each child at the moment.
- Facts about any involvement with Child Protective Services or social services.
- Details of any special needs or educational requirements for the children.
Legal and Procedural History
Your legal history could have a major impact on the outcome of the case. In fact, it can bleed down to your financial status and impact the property division that occurs after the outcome of your divorce.
12. Details regarding any ongoing or previous legal proceedings involving either spouse. These can be completely unrelated to your marriage or children.
- If applicable, you should submit your pre-nuptial agreement to the lawyer.
- Information about any domestic violence incidents or restraining orders.
- Details of any ongoing financial support or spousal maintenance agreements, if they already exist.
- An account of any allegations of adultery or infidelity.
- A record of any restraining orders or protection orders applied to either spouse.
- Details of any outstanding legal fees or obligations.
- An account of any existing court orders or agreements from other jurisdictions.
- Information about any immigration issues or pending applications.
- Details of any outstanding legal fees or obligations.
Financial information is easily the second most contentious part of your divorce after your children if you have any. Of course, it’s much easier to account for two children than it is to account for dozens of different bank accounts, credit cards, and financial assets. We’ll cover exactly how to document your finances below.
- Financial information, including income, assets, and liabilities, for both spouses.
- Particulars regarding any joint bank accounts or investments you own as a couple.
- Information about any significant inheritances or major gifts received during the marriage.
- Employment data that details the name and contact information of both your employer and your spouse’s employer.
- Information about any pension plans, retirement accounts, or insurance policies.
- Documentation of income, including tax returns and pay stubs.
- Any evidence of financial misconduct or hidden assets.
- Details of any joint debts or loans.
- Documentation of any joint or individual credit card statements.
- Details of any outstanding child support or spousal support payments.
- Notifications of any pending or anticipated changes in employment or income.
- Details of any ongoing financial support or spousal maintenance agreements, if any exist.
How To Document Financial Statements And Information
This is one of the most critical parts of your divorce, and it’s easy to get it wrong, so here’s a simple guide on how to format and document the information. If you clearly label each element of your financial records and attach dates where possible, you give your attorney a better chance of processing your case and calculating elements like child support payments.
First, create a spreadsheet for your income or expenses. Ideally, you could use accounting software or even obtain a copy of your tax records. It’s important to conduct this separately for both spouses.
Then, categorize all your different income streams, whether they are coming from employment, investments, rental income, or other sources.
On the flip side, categorize your expenses like household expenses, personal expenses, debts, and loan payments. This will give your lawyer a window into how much life costs for you.
Now, you should also make a spreadsheet that includes all your assets and liabilities. Your assets are things like bank accounts, real estate properties, vehicles, investments, retirement accounts, and valuable personal property. Your liabilities are mortgages, loans, credit card debts, and any outstanding debts. Clearly indicate the estimated value of each of these elements. It would also be nice if you separated them between joint and individual assets.
This is highly relevant to your financial information, but it’s also important to include the legal documents that prove who has possession of each property and a record of when each of them was obtained.
- Information about the family home or other real estate properties. This includes the address and estimated fair market value of these properties.
- Details of any debts or mortgages held jointly or individually by either spouse.
- Information about any shared vehicles or other similar assets. For instance, machinery or animals.
Health complications could become a major consideration in the divorce when it comes to payments and also when considering things like custody.
- Information about health insurance coverage for both spouses and dependents. You can simply attach your life insurance policy to simplify this information.
- Notify them about any substance abuse issues or addiction problems, whether they are attributed to your ex-spouse or your own.
- Information about any significant medical conditions or disabilities.
- Details of any concerns regarding substance abuse or addiction.
Your preferences are important, they will help your lawyer negotiate the ideal outcome for you. Plus, the judge might need to take them into account when deciding how to divide marital property and child custody.
- Information about any relocation plans for either spouse or the children.
- Any concerns or issues related to privacy or confidentiality.
- Preferences for negotiation, mediation, or litigation in the divorce process.
- Information about the desired outcome of the divorce (e.g., property division, child custody).
Not every separation ends with a divorce that goes to court. Sometimes, you can go through mediation to resolve the issue. No two divorces are the same.
But at the start of the divorce, you’ll always need to provide detailed information to your attorney, and we just gave you a clear-cut recipe to help you do it.
If you’re ready to bring this information forward to a reliable attorney in BC, we recommend you sit down for a conversation with us at Guardian Law.
You can benefit from our welcoming yet straightforward approach to handling divorce. We want to obtain the best outcome for you as efficiently as possible, long divorces are not our preference.