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What your lawyer will need to know

While every case is unique, the following list will give you an idea of what information your lawyer may need:

Why are you seeking a divorce. What caused your breakup? Are you sure you want to end the marriage? If you’re secretly hoping for a reconciliation, then you and your lawyer are working towards different goals.

Personal data about you, your spouse, and your children (if any). Write down your names (maiden name, too, if applicable); your home and work addresses and telephone numbers; your ages and places of birth; your Social Security or Social Insurance Numbers; your states of health – both mental and physical.

Facts about your marriage. When and where did you get married? Did you sign a prenuptial agreement or marriage contract? If so, bring a copy of the agreement with you. Have either of you been married before? Provide details of your previous divorce(s).

Whether there will be issues involving your children – such as custody or access.

Financial information. What assets and debts did each of you bring into the marriage? What are your incomes and what are your expenses – jointly and individually? What are the names and addresses of your employers? How much money do both of you have invested: in the bank, the stock market, etc.? Have either of you invested in insurance, a pension plan, a Pension and Profit Savings Plan? What property do you own (a house, car, boat, income property, etc.)? Was the property purchased before or after the marriage? Do you have a mortgage, and if so, how much is owing? Prior to seeing your lawyer, create a budget detailing how much you spend every month on items such as housing, food, clothing, personal grooming, gifts, vacations, etc. If you have children, and expect to be their primary caretaker, make sure you factor their expenses into your budget.

Legal documents. Bring copies of prior or pending lawsuits, bankruptcy suits, judgments, and garnishments.

Your divorce goals. Be very specific about your goals in terms of realizing your future; make sure your short-term goals for property, other assets, custody, visitation, and support are consistent with that future.

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