Preparing for first appointment:

Basic information:

Full names and former names of both spouses

Dates of birth

Full addresses

Phone numbers

Date of Marriage

Place of Marriage

Approximate date of separation

Has there been a prior case filed or restraining order? Dates and file numbers--bring documents if possible.

Is the wife pregnant?

Does either party want a name change?

Name of employer

Job title

Gross income

Status of medical insurance: who carries it, what kind, cost, and what cost would be separately

Are there joint bank accounts?

Joint savings, stocks/bonds, or investment accounts?

Year and make of all vehicles and whose name title is in; if there is a loan against, if so, approximate amount owed (worthwhile to go online to or to determine current value)

If personal property has yet to be divided, work on an inventory

Is either party involved in a lawsuit of any kind?

Very important: are there any joint charge accounts or other joint debts (including past due taxes, leases, cell phone plans, personal loans from friends or family, medical bills). This is an excellent time to print out your free credit report

This is also an ideal time for you to prepare a budget for yourself. Figure out whether you can enjoy the same standard of living on your own income. Use this form: Pdf or WordPerfect or Word

Did you file taxes together recently? What is the status of refunds? Have you considered how you will file your next return?

Retirement: who has retirement and what is the value of it? Current statements are helpful. If you already had a plan coming into the marriage, finding a statement from the time of marriage is to your benefit.

Real estate:

Very important: locate the deed from purchase of the home, or mortgage from last refinance. We must have the exact legal description of the home (often Lot 3, Block 4, Suchandsuch Addition) or sometimes longer.

Current balance of all mortgages against the home.

Current estimate of value.

Monthly payment and name of mortgage company.

It helps tremendously if you know the history of your acquisition of the home. For example, date of purchase, price, how much down (this will be on the HUD Settlement Statement--very helpful). Where did the money come from for the down payment? What signficant improvements were made and how were they financed? Were there previous homes? Ask the same questions for those as well.

Nonmarital property: Be prepared to discuss if you want to make a claim that some of your property is nonmarital: given to you as an individual by someone other than your spouse, inherited by you, or deriving from a personal injury claim. Also, if you brought assets into the marriage, try to recall exactly what assets and liabilities each of you had at that time.

If you have children or are making a claim to spousal maintenance, try to locate a few years of tax returns, and bring current paystubs.

Also, if you have children, be prepared to discuss what parenting each of you has done before and after your separation, and consider what parenting arrangement would be best for your children.

Identify the cost of medical insurance that applies only to the children. So if you have a family plan, subtract the cost of single coverage for yourself and/or spouse to determine how much the premium is for children alone. Calculate the cost of day care on an annual basis--summer is often the most expensive.

Here is the website for the child support calculator. Take a look to become familiar with how it works. When you come in, we will work on it some more.

How to reach Bruce D. Kennedy