Well-prepared clients help their cases go more smoothly. Clients can save time and money by gathering facts and carefully considering what goals they want to achieve. To help our lawyers analyze your case and give better advice, it is helpful for you to assemble the following documents about your case and provide them to our office.
If your Pennsylvania family law case involves divorce and equitable distribution of marital assets and debts, you should assemble the following documents:
- Tax returns (state and federal) for the last three years; perhaps earlier years as well
- Records of bank accounts -- checking, saving, money market; certificates of deposits
- Investment account records
- Retirement account statements from pension plans, profit sharing plans, 401(k), IRAs, etc.
- Recent pay stubs or other proof of income for yourself and spouse
- Credit card and loan statements as well as records pertaining to other bills and expenses
- Deeds to home and other real estate; lease of apartment
- Titles to automobiles or other vehicles, boats, trailers, etc.
- List and description of insurance policies -- health, home, life, and disability
- Divorce decrees and settlement agreements from earlier marriages
- Resumes or curriculum vitae
- Written prenuptial agreement, if there was one
- Proof of any premarital assets or debts for either spouse
- Proof of nonmarital assets such as inheritances or gifts to either spouse from someone other than the other spouse
- Financial statements submitted to any lending institutions within last two years
- An itemized budget for you and any minor children that will be residing with you
- A summary of the marital assets and debts as of the date of your separation
- Other documents you think are relevant
Note: When providing statements, the statements should be from the month of your separation as well as from the month of your marriage if there was a premarital component to the asset or debt.
If your Pennsylvania family law case involves child or spousal support, the documents you should assemble include:
- Tax returns (state and federal) for the last three years
- W-2 or 1099 statements from the previous year
- Year-to-date information regarding both parties' income
- Proof of any income for either party not reported on tax returns
- Proof of the mortgage, taxes, and any home equity loans for any residence owned jointly between you and the opposing party
- Proof of any medical condition that limits either party's ability to work
- Proof of the costs for medical coverage
- Proof of any recurring medical expenses not covered by insurance
- Proof of any daycare costs or private school tuition if child support is an issue
- Proof of either party's earning capacity if not working full-time
- Computerized accounting printouts for any businesses including general ledger, accounts receivable, accounts payable, check register, client listing and vendor listing for last two years
If your Pennsylvania family law case involves custody, the documents you should assemble can include:
- Prior custody orders or other written agreements
- School records including report cards, attendance records, Individualized Educational Plans (IEPs) and any psychological evaluation conducted on behalf of the school
- Detailed medical records if your child has a serious medical condition
- Any documents that prove your involvement with your child's education, medical care, religious activities and social activities
- Any calendars, journals, or other documents that lists the days each parent has spent with the child and any problems with custody in the past
- Criminal records for you or the other parent
- Names, addresses, and telephone numbers of any witnesses the client believes will be helpful to their position and a brief statement of the testimony they can provide
- Names, addresses, and telephone numbers for daycare providers, teachers/school, pediatrician and mental health therapists
- A summary of significant facts that you believe should impact a custody determination
It is important for the client to be honest with our attorneys and staff. If there are skeletons in the closet (or a few loose bones) regarding finances, extramarital relationships, or other issues, it is best to be candid with us about such matters so they can be dealt with if necessary. A client usually is worse off when adverse information comes up for the first time in the middle of a trial or the middle of negotiations since the attorney may not be fully prepared to respond to the disclosures.
Although this may be a time of stress, it also is a time to plan for the future. Clients should develop goals for the short-term and long term, and try to figure out how the issues of property, support, and time with children will fit into those goals. By identifying which issues are most important and which issues are less crucial, clients will help themselves and our lawyers resolve the problem in an orderly way while developing a reasonable plan for the future. Remember, a well-prepared client with a realistic set of goals is the best kind of client a family lawyer can have!
To inquire about scheduling a consultation, click here. Our office conducts appointments in our Allegheny County offices located in downtown Pittsburgh as well as meeting locations we have established in Cranberry Township, Robinson Township, South Hills, and Washington. Appointments are also available by telephone. Our office accepts Pennsylvania family law cases in Allegheny County (Pittsburgh), Armstrong County (Kittanning), Beaver County, Butler County, Somerset County, Washington County, and Westmoreland County (Greensburg). Our law firm accepts Pennsylvania family law cases from other Western Pennsylvania counties including Clarion County, Fayette County, Greene County, Indiana County, Lawrence County (New Castle), Mercer County, and Venango County on a case-by-case basis.