At your first meeting or consultation with an attorney you will explain your problem. The more information you can give to your attorney at your first meeting about a possible restraining order (or other family law case), the better the attorney will be able to help you. Tell the attorney all of the facts and do not leave out information because it is embarrassing or because you think it will hurt your case. Without all of the facts, an attorney cannot give you good advice about your options on how to proceed.
Be sure to make a list of any witnesses who may have seen or heard the domestic violence. If the police were called be sure to tell your attorney the responding officer’s names, badge numbers, and police department. Also, be sure to bring any medical reports or photographs of your injuries, if they are available.
If decisions will have to be made about money, property, and child custody, then the better prepared you are to discuss these matters, the less time, expense, and unnecessary complications there will be. The following checklist will help you compile the facts your attorney will need if there are financial support, property, or child custody questions at issue (not every item may be applicable to your situation):
- A copy of your marriage certificate.
- Children’s and spouse’s names and dates of birth.
- Copies of any written agreements between you and your spouse that deal with finances, such as a prenuptial agreement.
- Copies of the deed or lease to your home and to any other real estate you or the defendant may own or lease.
- A list of valuable personal property, such as cars, jewelry, appliances, cameras, and electronic equipment, and whether they are owned individually or jointly.
- A list of bank accounts, stocks, bonds, or other investments that you and your spouse have, and whether they are held singly or jointly.
- A list of debts, including mortgages, personal loans, credit cards, and charge accounts.
- A list of monthly expenses and copies of paid bills for one month
- Stubs from recent paychecks for each working party if available.
- Copies of Federal and state income tax returns for you and your spouse for the past three years.
- If you own a business, copies of the tax returns for the business for the past three years.
- Copies of medical insurance and life insurance policies for both you and your spouse.
- Copies of pension plans and Social Security earnings statements.
- If either you or your spouse has been married before, a copy of the divorce papers.
- The name of your spouse’s attorney, if applicable.
If your abuser damaged your property during a domestic violence incident you may ask the court to order the abuser to pay for the property, so you will want to give your attorney any receipts you get for property’s repair or replacement.