Month: March 2012

Divorce Checklist

Going through a divorce is one of the most stressful and intimidating times in a person’s life. Setting aside the emotional trauma, the sheer volume of documents and information required to identify assets, debts, ownership, accounts, and biographical information is overwhelming. Our office uses a Client Information Sheet to gather such information, which has proven invaluable for reference and thoroughness. I have copied our Information Sheet below to provide an idea of the scope of information and documents we need just to get started on a divorce.

Client Information Sheet


1.             Husband/father’s name: __________________________________________________________________

2.            Husband/father’s address: _______________________________________________________________

3.             Husband/father’s phone number: ________________________________________________________

4.            Husband/father’s email address: _________________________________________________________

5.            Husband/father’s birthdate: ______________________________________________________________

6.            Husband/father’s current employer: _____________________________________________________

7.             Husband/father’s employer address: ______________________________________________________

8.            Husband/father’s gross monthly income: ________________________________________________

9.            Husband/father’s Social Security number; _______________________________________________

10.          Husband/father’s previous marriages/children: __________________________________________

11.           Wife/mother’s name: _____________________________________________________________________

12.          Wife/mother’s address: ___________________________________________________________________


13.           Wife/mother’s phone number:___________________________________________________________

14.          Wife/mother’s email address: ____________________________________________________________

15.          Wife/mother’s birthdate: _________________________________________________________________

16.          Wife/mother’s current employer: ________________________________________________________

17.           Wife/mother’s employer address: ________________________________________________________

18.          Wife/mother’s gross monthly income: ___________________________________________________

19.          Wife/mother’s Social Security number; ___________________________________________________

20.          Wife/mother’s previous marriages/children: _____________________________________________

21.          Children’s name(s): ________________________________________________________________________

22.          Children’s ages: ____________________________________________________________________________

23.          Children’s Social Security number(s): _____________________________________________________

24.         Children’s birthdates: ______________________________________________________________________

25.          With whom do the children currently live? _______________________________________________

26.          Addresses children have lived the last 5 years: ____________________________________________

27.          Cost(s) of work-related child care, and who pays it?                 ______________________________________________________________________________________________

28.          Cost(s) of health insurance for children, and who pays it?                 ______________________________________________________________________________________________

29.          Proposed custody arrangement:

  1. With whom will the child(ren) live? ______________________________________________
  2. With whom does the child(ren) live now? ________________________________________

30.          Current visitation schedule:                 _______________________________________________________________________________________________

31.           Proposed visitation schedule:

a.             Weekends: ___________________________________________________________________

b.            Thanksgiving: ________________________________________________________________

c.             Christmas: ___________________________________________________________________

d.            Easter: _______________________________________________________________________

e.             Mother’s  Day/Father’s Day: ________________________________________________

f.             Birthdays: ____________________________________________________________________

g.            Spring Break: ________________________________________________________________

h.            Summer: _____________________________________________________________________

i.              Miscellaneous provisions: ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

32.          Proposed college education agreement: _____________________________________________________

33.          Who will claim child(ren) on tax returns? _________________________________________________

34.          List current joint assets:

a.             Joint bank accounts? ________________________________________________________________

b.            Joint retirement accounts? __________________________________________________________

c.             Do you own a home together? _______________________________________________________

d.            Will one of you keep the house, or will it be sold? __________________________________

e.             Joint cars? ____________________________________________________________________________

f.             Any other joint assets:                                                                                                                                                                _______________________________________________________________________________________                                  _______________________________________________________________________________________                                  _______________________________________________________________________________________                                  _______________________________________________________________________________________                                  _______________________________________________________________________________________                                  _______________________________________________________________________________________

g.            How will assets be divided?


35.          List current joint debts:

a.             Credit cards? ________________________________________________________________

b.            Installment accounts? _______________________________________________________

c.             Bank loans? __________________________________________________________________

d.            Mortgage? ___________________________________________________________________

e.             Car loans? ____________________________________________________________________

f.             Any other joint debts:                                _______________________________________________________________________________________                _______________________________________________________________________________________                _______________________________________________________________________________________                _______________________________________________________________________________________                ______________________________________________________________________________________________                ______________________________________________________________________________________________

g.            How will debts be divided?

-bank  accounts: _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

-retirement accounts: _______________________________________________________

-mortgage: ___________________________________________________________________

-car loans: ___________________________________________________________________

-credit cards: ________________________________________________________________

36.          Are there any other arrangements or agreements that need to be incorporated into your agreement?                ______________________________________________________________________________________________                ______________________________________________________________________________________________                ______________________________________________________________________________________________

37.          Where were you married (city/state/county), and on what date?                 _______________________________________________________________________________________________                _______________________________________________________________________________________________

38.          Number of previous marriages for each: _____________________________________________________

39.          Please list any prior child custody/child support/visitation/alimony orders:                 _______________________________________________________________________________________________                _______________________________________________________________________________________________

40.         Please list the education levels of you and your spouse:                 _______________________________________________________________________________________________                _______________________________________________________________________________________________

41.          Who will provide medical insurance for each spouse and the child(ren)? _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

42.         Who will provide life insurance for each spouse and the child(ren)?


43.          Date separated: ______________________________________________________________________________

44.         List any specific personal or household items that you want: ______________________________


Ignoring the formatting issues, you can see how comprehensive the list is. And this is just to get started; throughout the divorce, there may be discovery, depositions, or mediation that requires production of many financial documents and marital property identification. Divorce is not for the faint of heart!

Does Every New Law in Alabama Have to be Controversial?

News today regarding a proposed Alabama Senate Bill that would alter traditional marriage and divorce laws has sparked controversy, as most proposed bills in Alabama do. This one, however, seems pretty far out there. Under Senate Bill 270, proposed by Sen. Phil Williams, R-Rainbow City, couples getting married in Alabama could choose to enter into a “covenant marriage” that would require premarital counseling, and be unable to obtain a “no-fault” divorce.

“We’re asking for folks to consider, at their own option, whether or not they want to take the extra steps to preserve and protect their marriage,” Williams said. “This is a great opportunity to be pro-family.”

Sen. Gerald Allen, R-Cottondale, said the bill calls for couples who opt for covenant marriage to get marital counseling before getting a divorce, to “see if the differences can be resolved.”

“Anything we can do to strengthen the family … would be a step in the right direction,” said Allen, a co-sponsor of the bill.

For a couple choosing the covenant marriage option, under Senate Bill 270:

• They would have to get premarital counseling from a clergy member or marriage counselor. The couple and counselor would have to file notice of the counseling with the probate judge or other official issuing the marriage license.

• They would have to sign a declaration of covenant marriage, which among other things would say, “We have chosen each other carefully and disclosed to one another everything which could adversely affect the decision to enter into this marriage.”

• Once married, they would have to get marital counseling before getting a divorce, except that if one spouse refused repeated requests to attend counseling, the spouse seeking a divorce could submit a sworn affidavit to cancel that requirement.

• Neither the husband nor wife could seek a divorce for “complete incompatibility of temperament” or for the “irretrievable breakdown of the marriage,” two of many grounds for divorce under Alabama law for marriages that aren’t “covenant marriages.”

With a covenant marriage, a husband or wife could get a judgment of divorce in Alabama only upon proof of:

• Adultery by the other spouse.

• A felony conviction of the other spouse.

• Abandonment of the home for at least a year by the other spouse.

• Physical, emotional or sexual abuse by the other spouse or the spouse seeking the divorce, or of a child of one of the spouses.

• The spouses living apart “without reconciliation” for at least two years.

• The spouses living apart “without reconciliation” for at least one year after a legal separation, or for as long as 18 months after a legal separation with minor children involved.

Williams said he patterned his bill after a similar one in Louisiana, although statistics show only about 1% of marriages there were “covenant marriages”. To me, this is an unnecessary bill at a time when the State of Alabama is facing much greater problems. As a divorce attorney, the logistics behind “covenant marriage” are going to clog the system more than it already is. Judges, attorneys, and GAL’s are going to need training and education in order to adequately implement the new system, which is going to require time and money that the Alabama Judicial System does not have. At a time when courtroom security and court clerks are being laid off, judges’ dockets are overcrowded, and the waiting time to even get before a judge is measured in months, not weeks, introducing unnecessary and outdated legislation aimed at reforming a system that does not require reforming is misguided and not what the State of Alabama should be devoting resources to.

Read more:

Divorce and the Internet

Today’s post comes courtesy of guest blogger and administrator extraordinaire Stephanie K.

Many of us get online at some point.  Most of us use networking sites such as Facebook or Twitter to communicate with friends and family what is going on with their lives.  Usually there is nothing wrong with this.  When in litigation, however, this can be disastrous.  This is especially true in divorce and custody cases.  If you present yourself as an honest, dependable, trustworthy person who is capable of taking care of your kids, photos and internet posts about partying and excessive drinking do not help your case.  At minimum it will make you look dishonest – a trait most judges do not like.  Changing your marital status to ‘single’ too soon can hurt you as well.  Until the final divorce decree is issued, you are still legally married.  Basically, anything you don’t want your spouse or a judge to know, you don’t need to post online.  This includes photos of you and people of the opposite sex, especially if you are in a relationship with that person.  If you are in a relationship with someone else while going through a divorce, it is important that he or she is also careful with what they post.

Your internet history can be subpoenaed, and although it doesn’t happen often, in extreme cases your entire computer can be subpoenaed and provided to a forensic computer expert for analysis.  Joining dating sites such as eHarmony and are also not recommended.  Remember that everything quits being a secret once it is posted online.  Also, be wary of accepting new friend requests from people you don’t know personally.  Becoming friends with people you and your spouse know can be dangerous as these friends may have been recruited to gain information you are posting.  People have also been known to create fake accounts in order to gain access to information only available to people on your friends list.  Be cautious about posting things your children can see as well.  Exposing them to anything that can be harmful can damage your attempts to gain custody and visitation.  Overall, if you are insistent on continuing to actively post information on these types of websites, it is important to discuss it with your attorney first to get guidelines on what is safe and what is potentially harmful; and you should always review posts, tweets, and pictures before hitting send.  If you don’t want it to become part of public record, it is best not to share it at all.

Cordell, Joseph Esq. The 10 Stupid Mistakes Men Make When Facing Divorce and How to Avoid Them. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2010. Print.