What’s Behind That Huge Checklist in Your Divorce Case
When we first meet potential divorce clients, we ask what brings them to our office. The answer – including why someone wants a divorce or is considering it – gives us the first idea of how we best can represent them.
Over the course of the majority of divorce cases, clients will be asked to collect dozens of pieces of information. This data, such as the couple’s bank, tax and employment records, provides a clear picture of your jointly owned assets and who is likely to keep them as the divorce goes forward.
Some clients bring most of the information the next day. Others take months, for a variety of reasons: They may not want a divorce, they haven’t absorbed that one is happening, they don’t know where these records are kept, they don’t want to share certain embarrassing details indicated by the records and/or they don’t think the information is that important.
We know the list can be daunting – and no one likes to share ugly details – but clients must understand that their spouses’ lawyers are asking them to collect the same information. Anything we’re not told could become a costly surprise in the hands of the other side. Without access to all the information available, we can’t represent our clients thoroughly and efficiently.
In an ideal situation, the client’s information shows that the divorce should be a fairly straightforward, and we can settle the matter without a messy public, lengthy and expensive trial process.
However, problems inevitably arise. Sometimes clients don’t know much about family finances, and they need to ask their spouses for the information. Then there are the spouses who won’t share their employment records, individual bank accounts or business records.
The more we can get from clients without having to call the other side’s lawyer, the faster and less expensive it is for everyone. If we have to deal with the other side – or worse, subpoena a bank or an employer – the process will grind along.
Sometimes the records depict a less than flattering view of the client or spouse. We won’t judge. Our goal is to help clients get through this process in the best possible shape.
With that said, here is a downloadable checklist of information we typically request after we are hired as counsel.