Assisting Your Attorney in Domestic Cases

There are a number of ways you can assist your attorney in the preparation of your case. Collecting information is a critical component to any case, regardless of type or complexity. So, the obvious question is, “What do you need?”

Every divorce case will deal with the separation of property. Your attorney will compile a list of all assets and liabilities. Identifying all of your assets and liabilities is the first step. You will be asked to complete a Verified Personal Financial Statement early on in your case, so the sooner this information is compiled, the better.

Once everything is identified, the attorney will need to place a value on each item. You can help your attorney by collecting the following information on your assets and liabilities, to the extent that you may have many of these documents in your possession already: (1) documents regarding the value of your home, such as a tax assessment with the S.E.V. or a recent appraisal; (2) recent bank statements for all of your accounts; (3) recent reports from retirement plans, pensions, investments, etc.; (4) blue book values of your vehicles, which are available at, or a list of the vehicle features and mileage; (5) copies of insurance policies, especially those with  cash value; and (6) copies of all outstanding debts, including statements from the mortgage company, all credit card companies, car loans, various installment loans, etc.

If minor children are involved, the issues of child support and custody require further collection of documents. If child support is at issue, your attorney will want the last three years of State and Federal tax returns, with all schedules, W2s, 1099s, etc. In addition, evidence of childcare expenses is helpful, such as cancelled checks, invoices, verification forms from the childcare facilities, etc. Finally, it is helpful to have information regarding health insurance coverage for the minor children, i.e. which parent maintains insurance for the child(ren) and the cost of monthly premiums, if any.  It is important to retrieve documentation from human resources about the cost of coverage for just you, individually, versus the cost of a plan covering you and the children; the difference between the two policies is the amount factored into the child support formula. The parent paying the premiums will receive a credit.  Support can be calculated at your initial consultation with this information. This information will also be required when spousal support is at issue.

When custody is at issue, you will need to collect information regarding your involvement with the children. If you volunteer at school or regularly attend parent-teacher conferences, ask the schoolteacher or principal for a letter about your participation. If you are the parent who has regularly attended doctor appointments, obtain a copy of the medical records for your children. The notes will generally reveal who brought the children to their appointments. If not, the immunization records will reveal your signature for each visit. If you are actively involved in extracurricular activities or religious education, ask coaches and religious leaders for letters on your behalf.  It is also helpful to review the Family Bench Book – Best Interests of Minor article posted on the Washtenaw County Trial Court website to determine additional information that will be helpful throughout your case.

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You should also make a list of potential witnesses, including their addresses and phone numbers, and a short summary of what you would expect each witness to testify about.

This list is certainly not inclusive. However, your attorney will be better prepared to represent your interests and explore opportunities for settlement with a solid foundation of critical information.

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Family law cases can be tough, emotional and stressful.  Let our firm help you through these chaotic times.  Our reputation of being trusted, proven and respected, in addition to being readily accessible at all times, should give you peace of mind.  Please allow our family to help you and your family successfully navigate the storm by contacting our office today for a free consultation. Phone:  734-761-5860; Website: