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Get Organized If You Are Contemplating Divorce

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A client that is contemplating divorce or separation should get organized prior to their first meeting with counsel.

By Attorney Nichole A. Collins, Divorce Lawyer, Harrisburg, PA

I often meet with clients that are wondering whether they want to divorce their spouse or not.  I never tell my clients what to do.  If they want to move forward that's rightfully their decision.  It's often an extremely difficult life choice. However, if they are sitting in my office discussing their case with me, I'd suggest it's likely that they've thought through matter.  Let's talk more about what you should be doing IF you think a divorce may be in your future.

  1. Get organized.  You're about to enter a very confusing and tumultuous time. You should spend some time getting vital documents and information together.  Keep everything in a binder, file folder, or closure envelope where you can quickly find and access data.
  2. Have relevant information on hand.  Full names, date of marriage, dates of birth for both parties, dates of birth of any children of the marriage, social security numbers of both spouses, phone numbers, and addresses (if living separately).
  3. Have relevant documentation on hand.  Get all of these statements as of the date of separation:
    • Mortgage- for any real estate
    • Credit card statements
    • Loans- home equity lines of credit ("HELOC"), auto, line of credit ("LOC"), student loan, or any other personal loan details
    • Bank statements
    • Money Market account
    • Pension, 401(k), 423(b), SERS, PSERS, Thrift Savings, Military Retirement, etc.
    • Insurance accounts- whole and term life
    • Health care accounts- copy the card front and back
    • Powers of attorney ("POA") if joint
    • Wills
    • Citizenship details if a non-US citizen
  4. Think about Custody Matters if minor children are involved.  This is a discussion in and of itself.  You should have as a general matter the following:
    • Full names
    • DOB's
    • School(s) of attendance
    • Report cards with attendance records
    • Your work schedule and the schedule of your spouse
    • Name and address of both employers
    • Vacation schedules
    • Holiday schedules- Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day
    • Health and illness records- special needs

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