Documents you will need to collect when beginning the divorce process
Whether you’re just considering a divorce or have already started the process, the first steps can be the most intimidating. Getting a divorce lawyer’s help is essential, and it is a good idea to start collecting all of the necessary documents and account information you will need so that the process begins smoothly.
If you are a bit uncertain about how to manage each facet, don’t worry; your lawyer can walk you through them once they are collected.
1. The Discovery Process
After a divorce petition has been and a response has been made, there will be a time when documents that as a couple will need to exchange.
These documents will guide important decisions such as division of assets, debts, spousal support, and/or child support. This will look different for every couple, and your lawyer will need the most comprehensive picture of your situation to negotiate the best outcome for you.
2. Types of Documents You’ll Need to Collect
i. Personal Information: This might include things like your:
- date of birth
- proof of residency
- social security number
- employer information
Your spouse will need to provide the same. Depending on your circumstances, you may also need existing child custody agreements, your child(ren)’s birth certificate(s), and documents from previous marriages if some type of support is still being paid by you and/or your spouse.
ii. Financial Documents:
- record of year-to-date earnings or pay stubs of the parties
- Federal and State tax returns from the last 2 years
- Stock portfolios
- Stock options
- Savings accounts, bonds, REITs, and other investment portfolios
- Cash holdings
The division of finances and alimony are often hotly contested, so the more documentation you can provide your lawyer the better.
iii. Other Assets/Debts:
This category will most often relate to real estate, and the grant deeds, appraisals, mortgages, and lines of credit connected to your house. Records of ownership for rentals, vacation properties, and any other real property will also be needed.
You will also need to provide deeds or proof of ownership for property such as family vehicles, collectibles, or art.
Debts to report will include credit card debt, student loan debt, and taxes still owed, just to list a few.
iv. Owned Businesses:
Households that have a high net worth will often have more complex division of assets. This is especially true when you own a business. You will need to provide proof of liabilities, debts, earnings, and value of assets. This applies whether you have a sole proprietorship, an LLC, an LLP, or any other form of business. If you own a business, particularly if you own it jointly with your spouse, you’ll want to read our blog post on the complexities to expect.
V. Pre/Postnuptial Agreements:
While fewer than 10% of marriages have a prenuptial/postnuptial agreement, they can save you countless headaches in a worst-case-scenario. Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements can protect you from assuming the debt of your spouse, outline asset ownership, and guide responsibilities surrounding your children.
You should provide copies of pre/postnuptial agreements, or any other agreements legally made between you and your current spouse.
Tip: While you gather these documents, it can be helpful to create a running list of issues and questions for your lawyer. This will save you both time and money as you move forward and helps you to define what your end goals are.
3. Hire an Experienced Attorney
The best thing that you can do for yourself as you begin the divorce process is to hire an experienced attorney. At Capps Law, PLLC, assisting in challenging divorces is our specialty. Not only do we guide our clients through the complicated document maze of divorce, but we come alongside you to defend you and your claims.
The things that these documents can help you preserve – your assets, custody of your children, your finances – impact your entire life. We treat each factor with the importance it deserves.
As you embark on this difficult chapter of life, reach out to us. We are here to help.
Notice This article does not create an attorney-client relationship. Its purpose is to educate the public about the topic of divorce. This article should not be seen as legal advice. You should consult with an attorney before you rely on this information.