Documentation for divorce

Before you begin to negotiate the terms of your divorce, you must have a clear picture of what’s involved. Gathering paperwork before you meet with your attorney is a proactive approach to helping the dissolution process go more smoothly.

Organization can help you maintain some semblance of control throughout a tumultuous divorce. No matter whether you go to mediation or end up in court, records can support your case. But what records are necessary?

Categories to consider

How much have you and your spouse earned over the past three years? Check stubs, a business valuation and tax returns are necessary for making property division, child support and alimony determinations.

Real property and vehicle ownership likely factor into your joint assets as well. However, there might be more at stake than you initially realize. Financial statements are also important to have available in order to give your attorneys a full financial review of your marital estate.

Filing your financial documents into the following groupings may be helpful as you and your attorney seek the best possible results in your case:

  • Life insurance. Marital property may include your existing life insurance policies, for which a beneficiary change might be necessary to supplement ordered financial support.
  • Debt. It’s probably not something you want to think about, but your shared debt must factor into your divorce. For example, this could include personal loans, revolving credit and outstanding medical bills.
  • Retirement assets. Money contributed to a retirement account is marital property. Examples include a pension, 401(k), IRA or mutual fund.

You would be wise also to consider documenting business interests, intellectual property, jewelry and collectible items, as well as frequent flyer miles and club memberships.

Thorough preparation may be helpful as you begin your divorce process, no matter your social status or the extent of your assets. Gathering your financial documents may decrease the stress, and expense, of bringing your marriage to a close.