Divorce is stressful enough without having to scramble to find important legal documents that are necessary to finalize settlement. Gathering important financial, legal, and personal documents before meeting with an attorney can help you through the divorce process in several ways.
First and foremost, getting your hands on essential documents before divorce proceedings is crucial because these types of documents may suddenly disappear once your spouse begins his or her own divorce preparation. Obtaining documents also orients you to what divorce will entail and prepares you mentally for what lies ahead.
You can save money on legal fees by being ahead of the game when you and your lawyer sit down to plan out your divorce's details. If you would like to finalize your divorce sooner rather than later, having appropriate documentation on hand will help expedite the process.
So, what documents do you need to collect before proceeding with your divorce?
- Bank Statements for the past 24 months
- Pay stubs for both you and your spouse
- (YTD for previous two years and current year)
- Tax Records for the last five years
- Retirement information for you and your spouse
- Mortgage information
- Credit Card Statements
- Current debt of you and your spouse
- Household budget
- Credit reports for you and your spouse
- Household Bills (utilities, medical expenses, children's tuition, etc.)
- Life, Health, Automobile, Homeowner's, and other insurance information
- List of any personal property owned by you and your spouse before marriage and their approximate value
- Inventory of joint assets and their approximate value
- Documents supporting any inheritances or gifts
- Marriage License
- Birth Certificates for you, your spouse, and any children
- Social Security Cards for you, your spouse, and any children
- Driver's licenses for you and your spouse
- Separation, prenuptial or other legal agreements between you and your spouse
- Powers of Attorney
- Wills, Living Wills, and any Advanced Directives
- Titles and Registrations for any vehicles owned by you and your spouse
Proof of Misconduct (If Applicable)
- Telephone Records
- Police records, restraining orders, or proof of domestic violence
- Private Investigator reports
If you are unable to obtain certain documents, write down as much information as possible about each one. You should include in this list the types of documents needed, dates, parties involved, document contents, and any other relevant information. Recording your attempts to obtain documentation may also prove valuable if your spouse refuses to hand over vital information.
Once you have gathered the above documents and anything else that might be applicable to your particular situation, you are ready to speak to an attorney and move into the next phase of divorce proceedings.