Attorney, Cordell & Cordell
No matter what stage of the divorce process you are in, simple resolutions will help you avoid a messy situation when it comes to dealing with your divorce.
Your first resolution should be to keep a parenting time journal. For a few dollars to purchase a notebook and a few minutes a day journaling, you can keep a valuable timeline for your case.
New Year’s Resolution #2: I Will Copy Work, Medical and Other Important Records
In a divorce, these records have a way of mysteriously disappearing. Sometimes they make their way to your opposing attorney’s office. Sometimes they get stuffed in a box with “move out” belongings. Sometimes they turn up in the trash. Or they just got lost.
Whatever the reason, you may very well find yourself searching for documents your attorney requests, only to come up empty handed and have to pay for a third party, such as a bank, to provide copies.
Make copies of local, state and federal tax returns (ideally, all of them, and at least the past 5 years so that you can establish an earning history); pay stubs (both yours and, if possible, your wife’s or ex’s); bank and credit union statements (ideally a full year); IRA, 401(k), 403(b), pension and other retirement account records (ideally, for the history of your relationship); investment and stock records; deeds; appraisals; health, dental and optical insurance cards; birth certificates, passports and Social Security cards; and any other important records that identify you, your family and/or the property you acquired during and before your marriage.
Your copies will keep you and your attorney organized, and that is one of the easier ways to save money. You will not have to pay your attorney’s office to read and sort stacks of crumpled papers, subpoena third parties for what is missing, and weed out the relevant from the illegible or irrelevant ones. More importantly, you and your attorney can reference records during a hearing or trial with ease.
While you are making those health insurance card copies, be sure to note your coverage and speak to your provider upon the continuation of coverage upon your divorce. Before your divorce, use the health insurance available to you!
Strategically, I recommend my clients do this before we file for divorce so that any debts for co-pays, lab costs, etc., are more likely to be treated as marital debt to be divided between the spouses, rather than separate debt to be foisted on one party.
Go to that annual check up. Fill your prescriptions. Have your eyes examined and your teeth cleaned. Talk to your doctors about your immediate and future health needs, what insurance to obtain and whether low-cost substitutes (e.g., generic medicine) are available.
The more organized and informed you are now, the less scrambling you will have to do during the divorce or post-divorce process.
Other New Year’s Resolutions for you:
Jennifer M. Paine is an Associate Attorney in the Detroit, Michigan office of Cordell & Cordell. She is licensed to practice in Michigan, and has been admitted pro hac vice in Illinois, Ohio, and the United States Court of Federal Claims.
Ms. Paine received her BA in English and Mathematics from Albion College and graduated Summa Cum Laude. She received her Juris Doctorate from MSU College of Law and graduated Summa Cum Laude.