Divorce is rarely easy and it usually is not a win – win situation. A divorce case has a direct and tangible effect on your life. It affects you financially; it affects how much you see your children and it affects your future. Therefore, it is important to focus on getting the best resolution possible, while protecting yourself and guaranteeing the protection of your children so that you can get on with your life. Bryant Law Center has represented many, many people who spent years miserable in their marriages. We know that divorces can be unpleasant for everyone involved, but we want you to realize that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and we’ll be with you every step of the way. Mark Bryant and Joe Roark are skilled, dedicated and hardworking attorneys experienced in family law and child custody cases. Their goal is to educate, negotiate, mediate or litigate in the best interests of you, the client. Simply put, Divorce is two people reaching an agreement about no longer being married and deciding how best to get on with their lives apart.
It is important to remember, who you have standing beside you in that courtroom has a direct impact on your future.
The Divorce Process
Initial interview with an attorney and review of your information. You will need several documents.
Drafting initial documents (Summons,Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, Financial Disclosure Statement,Property Settlement Agreement and Qualified Domestic Relations Order for distribution of pension proceeds).
Once the spouse is served with divorce papers, he or she will most likely engage legal counsel.
The Respondent [the spouse served with the divorce papers] and his/her attorney will have 20 days to file an Answer.
The negotiation/resolution process could now begin in earnest. The attorneys on each side would exchange financial information concerning the marital and non-marital assets and liabilities.
It may or may not be necessary to take depositions of the husband and wife, yet it may even be necessary to take the deposition of people outside the marriage such as a doctor or accountant.
One of the attorneys will draft a Property Settlement Agreement which will be reviewed by the other side. There will most likely be several meetings and telephone conferences to iron out the parties’ differences on who gets what. Hopefully, it will be possible to resolve this matter without the need for several hearings or a full-blown trial.
If the parties can agree, the Property Settlement Agreement can be signed by everyone involved and filed with the Court.
A date can then be set for the taking of proof at which time the Petitioner appears before the Judge, answers several questions and the Judge enters the Decree of Dissolution.
In the event that no agreement can be reached, a hearing will be scheduled for temporary and permanent orders to be put in place by the Judge.
Documentation You Will Need
Second only to protecting your children is the need to safeguard yourself financially after divorce. The best means of insuring this outcome is to make sure that you are fully apprised of your family financial circumstances. Some of the documentation you will want to start collecting as you anticipate filing for divorce include:
Recent Taxes: Income tax records including estimated tax returns, W-2, 1099 and K-1 forms, payroll stubs and all other evidence of income since the filing of your last tax return.
Income Tax Returns: Personal, corporate, partnership, joint venture or other income tax returns, both state and federal, including W-2, 1099 and K-1 forms in your possession or control from the inception of marriage.
Personal Property Tax Returns filed in this state or elsewhere at any time throughout the marriage.
Banking Information: Collate all monthly bank statements, passbooks, check stubs or registers, deposit slips, canceled checks and bank charge notices on personal and business accounts, whether it be from certificates of deposit, money management and retirement accounts in your possession or control from banks, savings and loan institutions, credit unions or other institutions which have been or are maintained at any time for or by you, individually, jointly or as a trustee or guardian and which you sign or have had any legal or equitable interest.
Financial Statements submitted to banks, lending institutions or any persons or entities which were prepared by or on your behalf at any time during the last five years.
Loan Applications and statements of loan accounts for all loans for which you applied, whether approved or not, in the past five years.
Broker’s Statements: All statements of accounts from securities, commodity dealers and mutual funds you maintained and received during the marriage that you held individually, jointly or as a trustee or guardian.
Stocks, Bonds, and Mutual Funds: Certificates held individually, jointly or as a trustee or guardian including any stock brokerage accounts and statements owned during the marriage.
Stock Options: All records pertaining to stock options (exercised or not) held in any corporation or other entity.
Pension, Profit Sharing, Deferred Compensation Agreements and Retirement Plans or any other kind of plan owned by you or by any corporation in which you are or have been participant during the marriage.
Wills and Trust Agreements including inter vivos trusts (those made while the parties are living) executed by you or in which you have present or contingent interest, or in which you are named a beneficiary, trustee, executor or guardian, and from which benefits have been received, are being received or will be received, that are or were in existence during the past five years, including all records of declaration of a trust and minute books for all trusts to which you are a party. This also includes the certificates, if any, indicating such interest and copies of all statements, receipts, disbursements, investments and other transactions.
Life Insurance: Certificates of life insurance (including any disability insurance currently in existence) insuring your life or the life of any other person in which you are named as either primary or contingent beneficiary.
General Insurance: Insurance policies including but not limited to annuities, health, accident, casualty, motor vehicles of any kind, property liability or contents insurance in which you are or have been the named insured for the last three years.
Outstanding Debts: Documents reflecting all debts (secured or unsecured) owed to you or by you including personal loans and lawsuits now pending or previously filed in court. These documents should show the name of the debtor and/or creditors, the date each debt was incurred, the total amount and the unpaid balance.
Accounts Payable and Receivable: Ledgers in your possession and control, together with all accounts and journals that are personal or business related.
Cash Receipt Book: Evidence of budgets, cash projections and other financial documents in your possession. This applies to all items that existed at any time throughout the marriage.
Real Estate Documents: All deeds, closing statements, tax bills, appraisals, mortgages, security agreements, leases and other evidence (including monthly payments and present principal and interest balances) of any type of interest or ownership. Whether as owner, co-owner, fiduciary, trust beneficiary (vested or contingent), partner, limited partner, shareholder, joint venture, mortgagee, developer, manager or otherwise, you or your spouse’s property investments are relevant. This should be put together with evidence of all contributions, in cash or otherwise, made by you or on your behalf, toward the acquisition of such real estate during the marriage or afterward.
Sale and Option Agreements on any real estate owned by you individually, through another person or entity, jointly or as trustee or guardian.
Personal Property: Documents, invoices, contracts and appraisals on all personal property, including furniture, fixtures, furnishings, equipment, antiques and any type of collections owned by you individually, jointly, as trustee or guardian or through any other person or entity during the term of the marriage.
Motor Vehicles: Purchase orders, contracts, financing agreements, invoices, appraisals, lease agreements, registrations, payment books and titles to all motor vehicles owned by you, individually or jointly, at any time during the last five years. Vehicles include airplanes, boats, automobiles or any other type of motor vehicle.
Corporate Interests: All records indicating any kind of personal interest in any corporation (foreign or domestic) or any other entities not evidenced by certificates or other instruments.
Partnership and Joint Venture Agreements to which you have been a party during the marriage.
Employment Records during the term of the marriage showing evidence of wages, salaries, bonuses, commissions, raises, promotions, expense accounts and other benefits or deductions of any kind that were, are or may be paid, available, credited or withheld for any purpose by any individual or entity to which you were, are or may become entitled to in the future.
Fringe Benefits: All records serving as evidence of any benefits available to you from any business entity in which you have legal or equitable ownership interests. This includes auto, travel, and entertainment, educational and personal living expenses.
Employment Contracts including a list describing any oral contracts, under which you are performing services and/or rendering merchandise or materials, or under which someone is indebted to you for services and/or merchandise or materials already furnished, during the past three years.
Business Records:If you are self-employed, a partner or own more than 10 percent of the outstanding capital stock of any corporation, the records of that business will be important to your case.
Charge Accounts controlled or authorized for your personal or business use. This should include all statements and receipts you received in connection with the use of such charge accounts together with a list of those businesses for which you are or have been authorized to charge items to another person’s account during marriage.
Membership Cards or documents together with all monthly statements identifying participation rights in any country, key or private clubs, associations or fraternal organizations during the marriage.
Judgments and pleadings to which you have been a party, either as plaintiff or defendant, during marriage.
Gifts: All records pertaining to gifts of any kind made to you or from you to any person or entity. This should be together with all records in connection with the transfer of personal property, by sale, gift or otherwise, during the marriage.
Charitable Contributions:Receipts, canceled checks or tangible evidence of charitable donations you made.
Medical Bills:Prescriptions, evaluation reports or diagnosis for psychiatric treatment received during the last five years.
Telephone and Long Distance Charges received in the form of monthly telephone statements for numbers that have been in your name or the name of any corporation, partnership or other entity in which you have been a major shareholder, officer or director for the past three years.
Tapes and Photographs: All written memorandums, reports and photographs submitted to you or your attorney by any other person and all tape recordings and other evidence prepared from recordings made in connection with any wiretapping or other electronic surveillance conducted by you or others on your behalf.
Inventory of Safe Deposit Boxes of husband and/or wife.
Financial Disclosure Statement: A completed sworn declaration on the form your attorney gives you (to be filed in Court).