ISSUES TO BE RESOLVED IN YOUR DISSOLUTION
These are typical issues that arise in a dissolution proceeding if you have children and property. You should not make a commitment to a position until all the applicable issues have been satisfactorily resolved and you have had the benefit of our counsel.
Please review and answer to the best of your ability all the questions on this form and return your answers to us for later discussion with you. This will ensure that we do not miss an area of concern or importance in resolving your dissolution.
PROPERTY SETTLEMENT MATTERS
1. Which property is community property and which property is separate property?
2. If you own a home, how is the title held? Any other parcels of real property? Title status? Are there any mortgages, liens or encumbrances? Who will assume which obligations? Have the taxes been paid? Who is to get these properties? For what price? When? Will an appraiser be required? Who will be the appraiser? Who will pay for the cost of the appraisal?
3. If you are living in an apartment, is there a lease? In whose name? When does it expire? Who is to continue to occupy the apartment? Who is to pay the rent? Is the lease assignable? Is it to be assigned?
4. Is there a business to be disposed of? If so, should the business be appraised? Is the business a partnership? Is the spouse a partner? Is there interest to be purchased by either spouse? Is the business incorporated? Is the spouse an officer or director? Is the spouse to resign? If either spouse is a shareholder, what disposition is to be made of their holding? If either spouse is a creditor, what disposition is to be made of their claim? What tax consequences result from any transfer of interest? Does the business have "good will" value?
5. Is either spouse holding in his/her name any property belonging to the other? If so, who is to retain it?
6. Does either spouse have any real estate in their name? Is either spouse to quit claim their interest to the other spouse?
7. If you have not already made a disposition of your personal property, what should the disposition be? Consideration should be given to: (a) Household goods, furniture and furnishings such as rugs, draperies, etc. (b) Household appliances and equipment, such as refrigerator, washing machine, freezers, air-conditioning units, etc. (c) Television sets, radios, musical instruments, stereo sets and CDs. (d) Silverware, glassware, china and linens. (e) Books, works of art (paintings, prints, statuary), bric-a-brac and ornaments, special collections such as stamps and coins and objects related to any other kind of hobby. (f) Stocks and bonds. (g) Promissory notes. (h) Bank accounts. (i) Club memberships. (j) Merchandise credits, charge accounts. (k) Automobiles and boats. (l) Goods in storage. (m) Jewelry and furs. (n) Cameras, camera equipment, computers, etc. (o) Sporting equipment. (p) Power tools, gardening equipment. (q) Pets. (r) Family photographs.
8. Is there any insurance on these personal items? In whose name? Any premiums due? Are any of the policies to be transferred?
9. Do either of the parties have any interest in any profit-sharing plans, pension plans or other retirement funds? Fully vested? Partially vested? What disposition is to be made of these interests? When?
DEBTS AND OBLIGATONS
1. Do you owe your spouse any money? Is there an outstanding note or other evidence of any debt? How is the indebtedness to be treated?
2. Are you and your spouse jointly liable on any obligation? If so, what disposition is to be made when the obligation matures? Is one spouse to assume the debt and indemnify the other?
3. Is there any litigation pending in addition to marital litigation?
4. Is there any litigation pending in which either of you are involved, either as co-plaintiffs or as co-defendants?
5. Are there any outstanding bills or obligations incurred by one spouse for which the other is or may be liable? Who is to discharge them? When? Indemnification?
6. When should credit cards and accounts be canceled and surrendered? Can each spouse's credit be preserved by opening new accounts?
7. Are schedules to be prepared listing exact debts each spouse is to assume and pay? By whom?
1. Have the parties filed any joint income tax returns in the past? If there is a refund, who is to get it? If there is a deficiency assessment, who is to pay it? Is the spouse to indemnify the other spouse as to any liability regarding prior returns?
2. Are the parties obligated to file joint tax returns for any year prior to the year in which the marriage is dissolved? Amended returns? Refunds? Assessments?
3. Can a spouse avoid a deficiency for future filings during the pendency of the dissolution case by claiming a reservation of rights?
4. What about other tax returns and tax matters such as estate taxes, corporation and partnership returns?
5. Are authenticated copies of future tax returns to be provided to the spouse?
WILL, TRUSTS, ESTATES AND SECURITY PROVISIONS
1. Is each party to waive his or her rights in the estate of the other?
2. Has either party an existing will in which the other is named executor or executrix or beneficiary? Should this be changed?
3. Is the spouse bound to leave the other spouse or the children specific sums?
4. Are there revocable "living" trusts that should be changed because of the altered marital relationship?
5. Are the children beneficiaries under any existing "living" or testamentary trusts? Which parent is to receive and control the income on the children's behalf?
6. Is a spouse's obligation (assuming there are continuing payments) to survive other spouse's death and be binding on his or her estate? If so, may the obligation be capitalized so that the estate may be promptly closed?
7. Is the spouse to furnish any security for the performance of his or her obligations under the agreement? If so, in what form will the security be?
1. Which parent is to have custody of the children? Has joint custody been considered?
2. Which parent is to make decisions governing the children's education (choice of schools), health (choice of doctors, dentists, surgeons), summer plans (camps, trips), and general welfare? Is the other parent to be consulted? In the event of a dispute, is there to be arbitration or court decision? If not, which parent is to have the final say?
3. May the children be permanently moved to another jurisdiction? Must the custodial parent first obtain leave of court? Is there to be any notice to the non-custodial parent? Form and time of notice? How are visitation provisions to be adjusted? Are the parties to share in the transportation expense of children incident to long-distance visitation? Frequency of telephone contact with children?
4. Is there to be any notice in the event a child becomes seriously ill or injured? Direction to doctor to make all information available to other parent?
5. If the mother remarries, are the children to continue to bear the father's surname?
6. Are the children to have any voice in any decision pertaining to their custody? At what age?
VISITATIONS WITH CHILDREN
1. When and under what circumstances is visitation to be conducted?
2. With whom are the children to spend their winter, spring and summer vacations? Other school vacations, holidays, birthdays?
3. Are the visitation and vacation provisions to be changed when the children reach a certain age? In what respect?
4. Are trips and vacations to be limited in length of time or geographic location?
5. Are the children to be given any of their personal clothing and effects to take along during visitation? Are some items of clothing and personal effects to be kept permanently at the non-custodial parent's residence?
6. Is there to be any notice of intent to exercise visitation rights by the non-custodial parent? Form and time of notice?
7. What adjustments are to be made with regard to visitation if children move to another jurisdiction with the custodial parent?
SUPPORT OF CHILDREN AND RELATED EXPENSES
1. What provision is to be made for the support of each child?
2. How often and on what dates are the support payments to be made?
3. Are support payments to abate in whole or in part when the children are visiting with the non-custodial parent? When living away at school? At summer camp?
4. Are child support provisions to be designated as such in the separation agreement or are they to be unallocated and lumped together with support allowance for the spouse? (Tax consequences should be discussed with the lawyer.)
5. Is there a specific amount from the total to be allocated to each child?
6. Who claims which of the children as dependents for income tax purposes? Under what terms and conditions? What is the "value" of the tax exemption to each parent in the after-tax dollars?
7. Are the payments to continue in whole or in part when the children become emancipated? Under what terms and conditions?
8. Can the parent in charge of custody obtain income from employment or some other source without it affecting the amount of child support he/she is to receive? If so, is there to be any limitation?
9. Is the custodial parent to receive any supplemental support for such expenses as summer camp? Religious training? Music lessons? Other special expenses?
MEDICAL, DENTAL, OPTICAL AND RELATED EXPENSES OF CHILDREN
1. Who pays for the ordinary medical, dental, optical, and related expenses for the children?
2. Who pays for the extraordinary medical, dental, optical and related expenses of the children? Which hospital, optical, orthodontia, dental, medical, surgical, counseling or psychiatric expenses should be classified as extraordinary? Family counseling expenses?
3. Is there any notice to be given to the non-custodial parent before extraordinary medical, dental, or optical expenses are incurred? If so, how much notice?
4. Who chooses the doctor, dentist or other specialist?
5. Is a major medical or other type of insurance to be maintained? At whose expense? What is the minimum extent of coverage to be provided? What evidence of coverage is to be given?
6. Are any medical, dental, optical or related payments to be continued beyond the time a child reaches majority? During the time a child attends trade school, college or professional school?
EDUCATION OF CHILDREN AND RELATED EXPENSES
1. Who pays the trade school or college tuition fees of the children? Graduate school? Professional school? Other special school?
2. Who decides what school they are to attend? Location of school? Accreditation of school?
3. What scholastic requirements must the children maintain?
4. Is there a time limit in which the trade school or college education must be completed? Graduate school? Professional school?
5. Who pays for room, board, fraternity or sorority, money allowance, and other expenses incident to the children's education?
6. Who pays for travel expenses to and from school? Is there any limit to the number of trips per school year?
7. Must children apply for loans, scholarships or school employment?
8. Must children carry a full academic program? Are grade records to be made available to non-custodial parent?
9. Is there an effect on allowances if children have income from employment?
10. May college expenses be paid directly to children?
ALLOWANCE AND SUPPORT FOR SPOUSE
1. What provision is to be made for allowance and support?
2. Is there to be a lump sum settlement or periodic payments?
3. If a lump sum settlement, is it to be paid in installments?
4. If periodic payments, are they fixed in amount or subject to fluctuation? Depending on what factors?
5. How often are the support payments to be made? What dates?
6. Can a spouse obtain income from employment or some other source without affecting the amount of their support allowance? If so, is there to be any limitation on the amount he or she can earn?
7. When does the allowance to him or her terminate?
8. How are social security rights to be handled?
9. Tax consequences of payments and receipts?
10. Security provision for allowances?
DETAILS OF INSURANCE
1. What life insurance is there on either spouse's life? Who is the beneficiary? Who owns each policy?
2. Is there any loan on the insurance? If so, how and when will the loan be repaid? Will the owner have the right to borrow on the policies in the future?
3. What is the approximate total amount of obligation pursuant to the terms and provisions of the separation agreement? Over what length of time? What is the present value of those payments? Is there enough life insurance to equal the present value of those payments?
4. Is a spouse bound to keep insurance in force for the benefit of the other spouse and the children? In what amounts and for how long?
5. Is the spouse to assign all their insurance rights? Can any of the insurance be released to the insured spouse? How much? When?
6. Must the spouse submit to an physical examination and otherwise cooperate to allow purchase of additional insurance?
7. Are there any annuities or proceeds of insurance on deposit with any companies? What disposition is to be made of them?
8. Tax consequences related to premium payments and ownership of policies?
9. Must a spouse maintain any other insurance such as major medical or income protection?
10. Is an insurance trust to be created? What provisions should the trust contain?
COUNSEL FEES, COSTS AND EXPENSES
1. Who is to pay the parties' respective counsel fees and costs of suit? How much? When?
2. Can the tax laws be properly applied to make counsel fees legally deductible? Can the form of billing assist in tax savings?
3. Who pays for audits, costs of transferring real estate and other expense incident to the dissolution of the marriage?
4. Is one party to pay the other party's counsel fees and costs arising out of any post-judgment litigation? Under what terms and conditions?