You may be thinking about the possibility of filing for a divorce, or perhaps your spouse has already filed for a divorce, and you have made an appointment to consult with a lawyer. Unless you have been through the divorce process previously, it is often hard to think about all the questions to ask in the initial consultation.

As a preliminary step, write down all of the topics you want to discuss with your attorney, including what your goals are for the outcome of the divorce. The sooner you clarify your goals, the easier it will be for your attorney to support you in helping you reach those goals. While your lawyer’s experience will be helpful in making sure nothing important is forgotten, here is a checklist of important items to cover in the initial consultation.

Procedural Process

Parenting time for Minor Children

Removal of Children From the State

Parenting Plan

Child Support

Deviation from Child Support Child Support Guidelines

Termination of Child Support

Travel Expenses to facilitate Parenting Time for Out of Town/State Parents

Life Insurance to Fund Unpaid Child Support

Automatic Withholding for Support

Payment of child support arrearages

Child Care Expenses

Child Care Credit

Health Insurance for Minor Children

Uninsured Medical Expenses for Minor Children

Payment of extracurricular activities for minor children

Private School Tuition for Children

College Expenses for Children

College Savings Accounts F/B/O Children

Health Insurance on the Parties

Real Property: Marital Residence

Real Property: Rentals, cabins, commercial property, etc.

Time Shares

Retirement Accounts

Federal or Military Pensions

Business Interests

Bank Accounts


Stock Options

Stock Purchase Plans

Life Insurance Policies

Frequent Flyer Miles

Credit Card Points

Season Tickets for Events

Premarital or Non-community Assets

Premarital or Non-community Debts


Personal Property Division: Including motor vehicles, recreational vehicles, campers, airplanes, collections, furniture, electronics, tools, household goods, etc.

Exchange Date for Personal Property

Division of Community Debt

Property Settlement

Spousal Support

Life Insurance to Fund Unpaid Spousal Support

Arrearage of Spousal Support from Temporary Order

Tax Exemptions for Minor Children

IRS Form 8332

Filing Status for Tax Returns for Last/Current Year

Former Name Restoration

Attorney Fees


About the Authors:

Marlene Pontrelli is a Member in our Phoenix office. Marlene is a certified specialist in family law. Her practice focuses on all aspects of family law including dissolution, post-dissolution, paternity, child custody and child support matters. She is admitted to practice in California and Arizona. She is a member of the State Bar’s Family Law Practice and Procedure Committee and is a judge pro tem for the Superior Court of Maricopa County in family law. She has extensive trial and appellate experience including appearing before the Arizona Court of Appeals, Arizona Supreme Court and Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Ms. Pontrelli has written several books, including as a co-author of the Divorce in Arizona book. She is a frequent lecturer in the area of family law and has conducted workshops throughout the country. Ms. Pontrelli is also an adjunct professor at The Sandra Day O’Connor School of Law at Arizona State University, where she teaches the family law class. Marlene may be reached in our Phoenix office at 602-285-5081.

Bob Schwartz is a Member in our Phoenix office. Bob has been practicing law for over 40 years, specializing in family law. He is a member of the American, Arizona and Maricopa County Bar Associations. He is admitted to practice in the federal courts of New York, Arizona, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the U.S. Supreme Court. Mr. Schwartz is a fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and past president of the Arizona chapter. He serves as a judge pro tem for the Superior Court of Maricopa County in family court matters. He is a certified family law specialist by the State Bar of Arizona; is a frequent lecturer on family law and related matters; and, former member of the State Bar Family Law Advisory Commission. Mr. Schwartz has tried numerous complex business valuation cases as well as complex custody cases. He has testified as an expert in family law matters. Bob co-authored the Divorce in Arizona book. He may be reached in our Phoenix office at 602-285-5020.