Family Law . General Litigation . Real Estate . Estates & Wills . Employment Disputes
John B. Sines, Esq.
A dissolution of marriage (“Divorce” hereafter) demands a lot from parties and lawyers alike, and at the very beginning, a divorce demands organization. If you meet this immediate challenge, your divorce will cost less and be over sooner, and you will achieve a better outcome. Let me share with you three keys to help you organize the facts of your divorce quickly and efficiently so that, when you meet me for the first time, you and I can get a fast start on beginning and completing the organization of your divorce.
Fortunately, the California Judicial Council has designed two forms which will help you organize the financial facts of your divorce. They are the Schedule of Assets and Debts, Form FL-142, and the Income and Expense Declaration, Form FL-150.
1. Schedule of Assets and Debts, Form FL-142. Click here for Form FL-142.
2. Income and Expense Declaration, Form FL-150. Click here for Form Fl-150.
I suggest you use the Schedule of Assets and Debts (“the Schedule” hereafter) to create a snapshot of your assets and debts at a moment in time. The Schedule divides the universe of assets and debts into twenty-four categories. You should follow the Schedule. Take the last day of the preceding month or some other convenient date and list all assets and debts in which you and/or your spouse have an interest as of that date. Where deeds, financial institution statements or other documents describing assets and debts are available, make copies and attach them to the Schedule in order. If you cannot obtain documents pertaining to your spouse, do not be concerned, since California law requires that your spouse provide you, during the course of the divorce, with a full and complete list of his or her assets, debts and income. How much time should you spend collecting documents and preparing this form? The answer to this depends on the extent of your finances and your level of organization, but if you take between one and five hours, you are probably on track.
The other form, the Income and Expense Declaration (“the I&E” hereafter), is the Judicial Council’s attempt to set out a party’s income and expenses. I suggest you use this form to set out your income and expenses as of the same moment in time you have selected for the Schedule. The most important supporting and historical documents to collect and attach to the I&E are your last pay stub or, if you are self-employed, a current statement of business income and expenses, and copies of the last federal and state income tax returns you filed. I have seen clients spend many hours laboring over this form. I suggest that is too much time, and that an hour or so should be enough time to devote to this form.
If you have minor children of the marriage, there is one more document to prepare, though there is no Judicial Council form designed for this task. I suggest you take an 8 by 11 inch piece of paper or two and write down, informally, the current time- and responsibility-sharing arrangement for each child, and also list, by name and telephone number, the important adults in each child’s life, such as teachers, physicians, grandparents, ministers, therapists and the like. An hour or two should be enough for this document. The three keys or forms plus attachments I have just discussed may be the majority of what is required for your divorce, or they may be just the tip of the iceberg, but they are necessary and will get you off to a fast start. For your convenience, I have create a sample form.
Click here for the MS Word document.
There are many fine lawyers in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties. Each one has his or her own ideas on how to organize the facts in a divorce. So I am not suggesting that you follow these three keys when organizing your set of facts for another lawyer, or even for yourself. I am simply giving you my advice on what and how you should organize for your first meeting with me.
About Divorce - Getting Organized
John B. Sines, Esq.
342 State St., Ste 1
Los Altos, CA 94022
2009 Copyright©, John B. Sines, Esq.