Thomas Ferreira here, your divorce lawyer and mediator in Carlsbad California. Everyone thinks that the secret to winning in divorce court or family court (if you are an unmarried parent) is to have the best lawyer. That’s what the lawyers want you to believe.
I wish I had a dollar for every self-represented litigant that I saw wipe the floor with one of household name attorneys. I get a front row seat to these hearings as I’m waiting for my client’s case to be called.
These prodigious pro-pers have one thing in common: they are well-prepared. They have given thought to what they want the court to do, and they have all the relevant information at their fingertips. Their presentation has a central theme, and they seem to have an answer for every question from the court.
At the heart of preparation is the organization of information. If it’s easy to find the information, you can produce it to the court, to your ex, to your ex’s lawyer or other divorce professionals. To lay the ground work for preparation, you need two things:
• A tabbed and indexed file folder with all the documents relevant to your case; and
• A spreadsheet (Excel is tried and true) with all of the relevant information.
What is the “relevant information” you need to collect? Where issues are primarily financial, the answer is deceptively simple: it’s everything you:
• Make (yours and your spouse’s income from all sources, including employment, self-employment and passive income, such as rent and investment dividends)
• Spend (Yours and your spouse’s budget, including fixed monthly expenditures, such as rent or mortgage, car payments and the like, and average expenditures such as groceries, entertainment and eating out)
• Own (all documentation and information related to what you and your spouse have, including land, homes, cars, investments, retirement accounts, expensive jewelry or artwork and the like, and documenting when these items of property were acquired and the source of the funds to purchase them.)
• Owe (All of you and your spouse’s debts, including the mortgage, car payments, credit cards, personal loans, loans from friends and family).
I also suggest that divorcing men and divorcing women keep a tallied spreadsheet documenting, with totals:
• All child support and spousal support paid or received each month;
• The amount of time, in hours, that the minor children spend in your care.
With regard to child custody, it may be a good idea to compile documents regarding how the kids are doing, such as report cards, awards, and lists of people who can attest to the wellbeing of the kids.
I’m giving away two spreadsheets that I created to assist you in compiling this information, which you can get FOR FREE by clicking on the link below. Do this at the outset, before the court battle even starts, and you’ll be will on your way to …
Love your family,
Protect your finances, and
Reach for your future!
Thomas D. Ferreira, Esq.
Disclaimer: Thomas D. Ferreira is an attorney licensed only in the State of California. The information set forth in this blog or on our websites are not intended to create an attorney-client relationship, nor are they intended as legal advice on your specific matter. This information is not intended to apply to cases or jurisdictions outside the State of California, and those viewing this information outside of California, or having business before jurisdictions outside of California, should consult a local professional or lawyer. The information in this blog is not a substitute for the advice of competent counsel, and is not intended, nor should it be construed, as a guarantee, warranty or prediction regarding the results of your legal matter.