Items to Bring to a Divorce Consultation
Divorce is not an easy thing to think about. When most people walk down the aisle, they envision their marriage as something that will endure forever. But, as we see with the statistics on divorce, marriage is becoming increasingly more difficult to sustain over the long-term. If you do have to separate from your spouse, the divorce process will likely be among the most challenging experiences of your life. There is no point in dodging this fact. But, that being said, there are things you can do to mitigate the negative aspects of this process. For one thing, when you know for sure that divorce is imminent, you can start gathering the items you will need during a consultation with a family law attorney.
The divorce process can be very difficult to navigate, and consequently a capable attorney is nearly always necessary for assistance. Here are a few items which should be considered “must have” for a consultation.
Copy of Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreements
If you and your spouse signed either a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, you will need to bring a copy to the consultation. These agreements can cover a wide range of marital issues; essentially, these devices are used to predetermine certain outcomes in the event of divorce. In a sense, these agreements take some of the decision-making power away from the courts and into the hands of the married parties. Typically, these agreements cover things such as property division, alimony, distribution of life insurance proceeds, and so forth. Your prospective attorney needs to see a copy because either of these agreements can have a decisive influence over the direction of the divorce. These agreements can give your attorney a good sense of how the process will unfold.
Information on Child Custody Arrangements
If you and your spouse share any children, you will need to bring any information pertaining to child custody arrangements. When spouses with children prepare to divorce, very often they develop tentative child custody arrangements among themselves. In other words, they reach private agreements regarding primary physical custody, legal custody, visitation schedules, and so forth. Child custody agreements need to be approved by the court before they become official, but very often the private agreements reached by spouses end up being approved Spouses should bring any pertinent information to the consultation including information that can be used to substantiate said agreements. If you have evidence of domestic violence, for instance, or financial abuse, you should collect and bring that information to the initial meeting.
Information Pertaining to Marital Property
One of the most important aspects of divorce is property division. The State of Arkansas is an “equitable distribution” state, as opposed to a community property state. This means that an Arkansas court will review the marital property co-owned by spouses and then split the property between the spouses in an “equitable” (i.e., fair) manner. Equitable does not always mean equal, and this is a very important point to bear in mind. If you have documentation pertaining to shared property, such as real estate, automobiles, joint bank accounts, you should bring that documentation with you. You should also bring documentation that substantiates all your separate property in order to ensure that this property does not become lumped together with marital property. Surveying this information will give your prospective attorney a sense of how the property division will unfold in your case.