When a client hires their collaborative divorce lawyer, they must get essential documents and evidence. Otherwise, it is hard for a lawyer to advise their client on what may be fair and reasonable settlement terms.
Additionally, without the necessary documents and evidence, it is hard for the lawyer to confirm the values of specific marital property and debt. It may also be hard to devise an appropriate strategy in collaborative sessions.
What Documents and Evidence Should A Client Get Their Lawyer?
Many clients are uncertain at the outset of the representation about what they should get their lawyer. To some clients, retrieving the necessary information may not seem simple or easy. It may seem more onerous for clients who are not financially minded or who did not keep careful records.
Regardless, below are a list of documents and evidence that should be rounded up as quickly as possible and provide to their collaborative attorney:
The state and federal tax returns for the last three (3) or five (5) years are needed where children and spousal maintenance may be an issue.
Recent paycheck stubs are helpful in cases involving child support and spousal maintenance.
Recent statements regarding all marital property and debt are needed to confirm values and debt numbers.
Deeds to any real estate, along with recent mortgage statements, are essential where there is real property.
For all vehicles, the car titles and any documentation showing the balance of any note.
If the parties have prior estate planning documents like wills, trusts, powers of attorney, or similar documents, the lawyer will need them.
In terms of any retirement or investment accounts, documentation showing any plans’ details and the value.
If both parties do not agree upon child custody in advance, all documents or evidence that explains the client’s position, including school, medical and other records.
Social media evidence may also be relevant in various matters in a divorce, including property and debt division, custody, support, and even misconduct.
Proof that property and debt is pre-martial and not part of the marital estate, including statements and evidence that can trace separate property.
Anything else the client plans on relying upon or that they think their spouse will rely upon in collaborative sessions.
Gathering Documents & Evidence Is Essential
The list above is not all-inclusive. In some cases, other information may be vital. As a rule of thumb, if a client thinks something may be relevant, it is crucial to provide it. Otherwise, the collaborative process may take longer because parties may have to pause to obtain this documentation in the middle of the process.
While obtaining the information may seem arduous and time-consuming, if a party wants collaborative sessions to be fruitful, it is better to move forward expeditiously than to drag their feet.
If necessary, a meeting with the collaborative lawyer can also be important if the client has difficulty locating the necessary information. Lawyers and legal staff may have ideas for obtaining the essential information. Sometimes, it may require requesting the information from the other spouse and their lawyer.
Originally Published At The JD Supra Platform