The Ultimate Divorce Consultation Checklist: Essential Documents to Give Your Attorney

Divorce Checklist Download

Divorce Checklist Download

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A divorce consultation is your first meeting with your soon-to-be divorce attorney. This is the time when you finally get some answers to the things you’re worried about and a clear idea of what your legal options realistically are (and all the possible outcomes).

Their primary role in the consultation is to provide you with accurate, detailed, clear information, but they can only do that if they have the whole picture.

They need a wide variety of documents to get that picture. They need more than just your story — they need your evidence.

It’s crucial to arrive prepared for a divorce consultation as, in many cases, these consultations cost money. To ensure no one’s time is wasted (and neither is your money), you’ll need to have specific documents ready to go.

Here’s a comprehensive list of documents you’ll need to present to your attorney. 

Additional documents may be required for your specific family law case, and your attorney will provide guidance on this.

Pre-marital (Pre-nuptial) and Marital Property Agreements

If you have a pre-marital (also known as a prenuptial) or a marital property agreement, make sure you bring them along because they will play a critical role in the outcome of your case. 

These agreements specify how assets and debts would be divided in the event of a divorce and can have a profound impact on what you walk away with from the marriage (and the rest of your life as a result).

What many people don’t realize is that pre-nuptial agreements and marital property agreements aren’t always enforceable for a wide variety of reasons. Just because you have one doesn’t mean you don’t need an attorney.

In fact, an attorney may be able to find a way to have it nullified under certain conditions.

On top of that, these agreements can’t address custody or child support, so even if you have either one in place, you’ll still have to spend time and money working out these agreements.

Financial Documents

When you get a divorce in Texas, the court wants to look at all of your assets and debts before it will decide who gets what (and how much).

Most people have questions about spousal maintenance (alimony) and child support. They worry that their assets might have to be sold, that they’ll lose shares of or control over their business, or that they’ll end up with significant tax liabilities as a result of the divorce.

For your attorney to answer those questions, they need to have a lot of documentation related to your financial situation.

In most cases, you want to have documents going back at least 6 months — 12 months is better, and if you can go all the way back to when you got married, even better.

Here are all the financial documents you need to have available when you meet with your attorney for the first time:

  • Tax returns (for both you and your spouse if you filed separate returns, at least 3 years worth)
  • Pay stubs for you and your spouse
  • Bank statements for all accounts
  • Retirement account statements (IRAs, 401ks, 403(b)s, pensions) and other retirement benefits
  • Balance sheet showing your and your spouse’s net worth
  • Additional income (interest, royalties, dividends, rental income, tips)
  • Credit reports for both of you

List of Debts

Just as important as how much you make is how much you owe. Here’s what debt information you need to have:

  • List of credit cards and balances
  • Monthly bills and what portion you pay and your spouse pays
  • Mortgages
  • Car loans
  • Student loans
  • Personal loans
  • Medical debt
  • Home equity loans

When dividing your assets, everyone involved — including mediators, your attorneys, and the court — will want to balance what you both owe with what you both own. That can only happen if they have a complete list.

Property and Asset Documents

These are documents related to any property or assets owned by you or your spouse, including:

  • Cash and cash equivalents (cryptocurrency, precious metals (gold/silver), foreign currency)
  • Investments (stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ownership shares in a startup, etc.)
  • Deeds (houses, land, business buildings, machinery, timeshares)
  • Deeds of trusts
  • Vehicle titles (cars, boats, recreational vehicles)
  • List of personal property (furniture, artwork, jewelry, collectibles, electronics, antiques, firearms, etc.) along with approximate values
  • Promissory notes
  • Business documents (certificate of formation, shareholder agreements, partnership agreements, profit and loss statements, balance sheets, cash flow statements, list of business assets)
  • Patents, intellectual property, copyrights, trademarks
  • Digital artwork (NFTs), high-value websites/blogs/social media accounts, 
  • Structured settlements, inheritances

Other Documents

There are plenty of other documents that don’t fall into neat categories but that your attorney will still need, including:

  • Trust agreements
  • List of large or unusual expenses, especially in the last year
  • Life insurance policies
  • Identification (state ID, driver’s license, passport, permanent resident card, visas)
  • Social security numbers
  • Birth certificates of your children

Evidence Proving That You Should Have More Than Equal Custody of Your Children

If you’re seeking more than equal custody of your children, you have to have some really good reasons why you’re doing so (and evidence to back it up).

Courts in Texas do not favor the mother or father in the relationship — they are focused on what’s best for the child, which usually means shared custody. Just because you’re the primary caregiver doesn’t mean you get full custody or primary custody.

This could include reports from child psychologists, school records, medical records, or records from child protective services showing concerning, neglectful, or illegal behavior.

If there was violence in the home or your spouse is engaging in illegal activities, you need to have police reports if possible — if not, you may need to file them.

In these cases, it’s critical that you talk to your attorney before taking any action to ensure you’re able to keep yourself and your children safe.

You may need to seek help from a shelter or the police to ensure your safety before or after you speak to your attorney. Make sure you document everything along the way — take pictures and collect audio/video evidence of bad behavior as discreetly as possible.

Your Goals for Your Divorce

Everyone has a different ending in mind for their divorce, which means you need to be really clear with your attorney about your goals.

For example, what are your must-haves? Is there certain property you won’t let go of? Do you want a particular custody agreement? Do you want to move somewhere? Are you trying to get a certain amount of spousal maintenance or child support?

What things do you care less about? Is there property you don’t mind selling? Are there assets you’re okay with not splitting to avoid tax issues? What are the things that you’re okay with being traded away during negotiations?

When your attorney knows what you want and what you don’t, they can make a concerted effort to get you the outcome you want (and not just the outcome they think is best).

Ultimately, it’s your life and future that’s being decided here. By giving your attorney all the documentation they need right from the very beginning, they’re able to do their best work for you (and save you money in the long run).

Divorce Checklist Download

Divorce Checklist Download

Request the divorce checklist workbook by submitting your email below.

Let’s Talk About How We Can Help You Today

If divorce is looming in your life or you need help, we’re here for you.

Contact us today to set up your initial consultation or call us directly at (214) 646-3253.

We can’t wait to hear from you!

About Our Firm 

Ilarraza Law is your dedicated family law firm serving Flower Mound and Lewisville, Texas. At Ilarraza Law, we are committed to providing top-tier personalized representation to help you navigate the complexities of family law with confidence. 

Our attorneys at Ilarraza Law possess the knowledge and experience necessary to deliver the results-oriented representation you deserve. We pride ourselves on our strong record of positive outcomes for our clients and the respect we’ve garnered from our peers within the legal and judicial community. 

What sets Ilarraza Law apart is our unwavering focus on family law. Our decision to specialize exclusively in this area allows us to offer unparalleled insight into recent statutes, cases, and trends that can profoundly impact the outcome of your case. Whether you’re facing divorce, child custody disputes, spousal support issues, or any other family law related legal matter, our team is here to guide you every step of the way. 

If you’re in Flower Mound, Lewisville, or surrounding areas and are searching for legal assistance for your family law needs, Ilarraza Law is ready to provide you with the knowledgeable and compassionate representation you deserve. Reach out to us today to schedule a consultation and take the first step toward achieving the best possible resolution for your family law case. Connect with us today: https://www.ilawtex.com/contact-us/

Additional documents may be required for your specific family law case, and your attorney will provide guidance on this.

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