How to Prepare for a Divorce at Home
If you are thinking that you and your spouse are headed for a divorce, you can take steps now to make the process go more smoothly. Here are 10 tips to help the financial part of the divorce process go more smoothly.
Get copies of your bank statements. If you have only been married a relatively short time, get copies of ban k records from date of marriage to the present. If you’ve been married for decades, get the records for the past five years. If you have your statements online, you can download them to PDF files. If not, you can contact your bank privately to get the statements.
Get copies of all documents related to your debts. This includes: (a) Recent credit card statements whether in your name, your spouse’s name, or both of your names; (b) Copies of recent statements of any unsecured loans, such as debt consolidations loans from places like the Lending Club or Prosper, and student loans; (c) If you own your house, get copies of your statements for your mortgage and of your homeowner’s equity line of credit (HELOC), if you have one; (d) Copies of statements from any car or truck loans, or loans to purchase any other items, such as a boat, that are secured by property; (e) Information about money borrowed from relatives or friends which still needs to be repaid.
Get your complete tax returns, including all schedules, the past two years, which need to be submitted to the other party as part of the divorce process. If you have not done your taxes for those years, work on those years and get them submitted. Tax returns, which are signed under the penalty of perjury, can provide evidence if your spouse is trying to hide income from you.
Get paycheck stubs for the past three months from your employer or employers, and 1099 forms if you are an independent contractor. If you or your spouse operate a business, gather records including profit and loss statements, for the past two years, and bank records for that same time period if a separate bank account is maintained for your business.
Gather information out your and your spouse’s pensions, 401(k) plan, IRA or other retirement accounts, including statements showing the current balances and contact information for the plan’s administrator, if applicable.
Get copies of any life insurance policies that have cash value.
Take photographs of your belongings, particularly items such as jewelry, firearms, power tools and collectibles. The photos may be useful in determining the value of these assets.
Gather any written representations by your spouse that you believe are agreements to treat specific assets or debts in a specific manner. These documents don’t have to be signed and can be in the form of an email or handwritten letter.
Gather information about any wills, trusts or other estate planning documents.
Organize the documents you gather by type of document, and then chronologically from the most recent to the oldest within each category.
This list of financial documents can seem daunting, but having this information organized will help you and your attorney in determining the best outcome for dividing your property and debts with your spouse, as well as spousal and child support.
Deborah Brown is an attorney with Becker Nelson Center & James who helps clients with a wide variety of family law issues, including divorce, separation, spousal support, child support and custody issues. and domestic violence. She offers limited scope options and full representation in order to best serve her clients’ needs. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (530) 295-6400 ext. 112.