Thursday, December 13, 2012

I'm ready to start - what should I bring with me for my first appointment?

Information Needed for Divorce Paperwork

Even for the most simple of uncontested divorces, your attorney will still need a good amount of personal information to complete the dissolution paperwork.  For your first appointment, you should have the following information on hand:

For both parties:
1.  Full legal name (and wife's maiden name)
2.  Dates of birth
3.  What State each party was born in
4.  Social security numbers
5.  Addresses
6.  Length of time (years, months) Petitioner has lived in Missouri (and if Petitioner does not live in Missouri, length of time Respondent has lived in Missouri)
7.  Number of previous marriages for each party, and why those previous marriages ended (ie, death or divorce)
8.  The highest grade of school completed (ie, high school diploma, associates, bachelors, etc)
9.  Current employers

Marriage Info:
1.  Date of marriage
2.  What city the marriage took place in
3.  What county the marriage is registered in
4.  Date of separation (not legal separation necessarily, just when you and your spouse stop living like a married couple in your own mind)

Income and Expenses Info:
Your attorney will have to complete a Statement of Income and Expense.  While the information in these pleadings may not carry much weight in an uncontested divorce situation, it is still necessary:
1.  How often are you paid (ie, bi-weekly, semi-monthly, etc)
2.  Gross income for each pay period
3.  Net income for each pay period
4.  Approximate gross income from the last three years of tax returns

Your attorney will also need information about your monthly expenses, such as:
1.  Rent / Mortgage
2.  Utilities (gas, electric, water, sewer, trash, etc)
3.  Automobile expenses (gasoline, insurance, loan payment)
4.  Insurance expenses
5.  Living expenses, like monthly food, clothing, recreation costs
6.  Cell phone, Cable television, internet
7.  Payments you make on debt, such as credit cards, student loans, etc.

Property & Debt Info:
In order to prepare a comprehensive, quality Settlement Agreement that reflects the understanding you and your spouse came to in the disposition of your property and debt, your attorney will need information about the assets and liabilities of the marriage.  This includes information such as:
1.  Real Estate - if a house is involved, what is the plan?  Who will take the house and will a refinance be required to remove one party from the mortgage note?  Will a buyout be required?
2.  Cars - who takes what vehicles, which cars are secured by loans, and will refinance be required for those loans?
3.  Bank Accounts - who takes what accounts?  You should provide your attorney with the last four digits of any accounts divided in the settlement, as to prevent potential conflict or confusion in the future over which account(s) the settlement agreement is referring to.
4.  401ks, pensions, IRAs, etc. - you'll need to know how each investment retirement account is divided, if at all.  Please remember that if you are dividing a 401k, IRA, pension, or some other retirement account (and by dividing, I mean one party will take a % of a certain account, and the other party will take the other % of it, not simply a Husband takes his, Wife takes hers situation), you will need a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (otherwise known as QDRO) to divide that investment/retirement account.  QDROs are billed separately from the divorce and probably deserve their own blog entry sometime in the future.
5.  A list of all debt and who will be responsible for what.  You should also know how each liability is titled, as jointly held debt often warrants special consideration and planning.

Thank you for reading. Please feel free to contact me for more information.

Gerald W. Linnenbringer, Missouri Uncontested Divorce Attorney

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