Of the many challenges surrounding divorce, financial matters can rank quite high. After many years together, a married couple’s assets and property have become substantially intertwined. Attorneys and spouses can sometimes spend years undoing these knots fairly and equitably.
Whether battling it out in a courtroom or negotiating with a mediator, spouses can represent themselves better with thorough preparation and planning. The same goes for the division of marital property.
Divorce document checklist
To make the negotiations easier, spouses can assemble a few specific documents and lists in advance of filing:
- Income/financial information: A comprehensive list of all income helps a court determine how much money each spouse brought to the marriage. These documents include tax returns, pay stubs, job records, associated fringe benefits, stock portfolios, royalties, loan applications, brokerage statements, mutual funds, bonds, outstanding debt, etc.
- Professional records: A court will need to see all the financial information from individual and joint business ventures. These documents include ledgers, financial statements, records, and more.
- Individual property: A court will want a list of the value of all a spouse’s personal property. Spouses should locate property tax returns, deeds, appraisals, landlord-tenant contracts, vehicle titles, the contents of all safety deposit boxes, and more. Courts also require an exhaustive list of what each spouse owned or acquired before, during and after the marriage.
- Legal records: Courts need to see the rulings from any legal action involving either spouse, either as plaintiff or defendant. Make sure to include damages or other rewards either paid or received.
- Estate planning documentation: Courts need to see the couple’s estate plan, including wills, trust agreements, pensions, retirement and 401(k) accounts, and insurance policies. Many spouses will want to change these documents before or after a divorce to reflect their new lifestyle.
Judges and attorneys alike will appreciate the preparation a couple puts into their negotiations. Locating and producing these documents can help a motivated spouse push their divorce proceedings forward.
Find answers with an attorney
A local lawyer familiar with divorce law can help locate or identify any necessary documentation. An attorney can also field any questions a spouse may have about expectations and timetables to help secure a favorable divorce agreement for one’s family.