When considering divorce, where do you start?
Thinking of divorce and overwhelmed at the thought of dividing up years or decades of assets and debts? While each divorce is different, the basic information that you need to obtain when preparing for divorce is universal. See below for important documents and information to obtain when considering filing or shortly after filing for a divorce.
- Create a list of property that you own (marital home, vehicles, recreational vehicles, rental properties, valuable artwork, life insurance policies)
- Prepare a list of all bank accounts – obtain statements if you are able
- Prepare a list of all retirement assets belonging to you and your spouse (pensions, stocks, 401(k) accounts, IRAs)
- Prepare a list of debts (mortgage, credit cards, medical bills, vehicle loans)
- Obtain copies of your previous tax returns and supporting schedules
It is always easier to obtain theses documents earlier on in a divorce or prior to filing for divorce, than after filing. Emotions can change as divorce progresses; one spouse can choose to leave the marital residence, online account access passwords can be changed… it is best to compile as much information as you can while you have access. Not to say that you will not be able to obtain the financial information you need later on in a divorce, but it has the potential to become be more of a hassle and expense to obtain down the road if your divorce becomes high-conflict.
This list may sound simple to obtain, but if you are a spouse who is minimally involved with the finances, this can be extremely difficult. If you find that you are a spouse with little knowledge of your marital estate, discovery may be necessary or the involvement of third-party financial experts can be crucial to preparing an accurate accounting of the marital properties and debts. No need to panic if you are in the midst of a divorce and have not obtained these financial documents and information – there is still time, it may just take a little more effort!