You may be surprised to discover how much getting divorced can feel like dissolving a business partnership. That’s because one of the primary functions of a divorce is to divide your shared assets in a way that is equitable and that (hopefully) you and your spouse can agree on. To start this process, your divorce attorney will need to identify and determine a value for all of your community property (i.e. shared assets). In other words, divorces require a lot of paperwork!
As soon as you hire a divorce attorney, he or she will immediately start asking you to gather important documents to begin the process of identifying the primary assets in your estate. In fact, you’ll get a lot more out of your initial attorney consultations if you can bring some or all of these documents with you. In fact, it’s a good idea to collect these documents as early as possible, since your spouse may be less inclined to share some this information once you announce your intention to divorce.
Here are the 31 documents your divorce lawyer may want from you ASAP:
- Tax returns — federal and state
- Business tax returns if you or your spouse own a business
- Income statements — pay stubs, bank statements
- Employment contracts – both spouses if applicable
- Benefit states – both spouses if applicable
- Stock options – both spouses if applicable
Property and Major Assets
- Mortgage statement – primary residence, vacation home, all additional properties
- Property tax statement –all properties owned
- Deeds –all properties owned
- Car registrations – all vehicles owned by spouses
- Car insurance policies – all vehicles owned by spouses
- Property tax statements – all properties owned
- Utility bills – all properties owned
- Appraisals of other major assets – jewelry, artwork, etc.
- Home insurance policies – all properties owned
- List of all personal property acquired during the marriage – This includes anything of value, like furniture, electronics, special equipment, artwork, jewelry, even expensive clothing.
Investments and Cash
- Statements for all bank accounts – checking, savings, mutual funds
- Certificates of deposit
- Stock portfolios
- Retirement account statements – both spouses (401(k), IRA)
- Pension statements
Estate Planning Documents
- Life insurance policies – both spouses
- Health insurance policies – both spouses
- Living trusts – both spouses
- Powers of attorney – both spouses
- Advance healthcare directives – both spouses
- Wills – both spouses
- All additional insurance policies – long-term care insurance, earthquake insurance, disability insurance
- All additional major bills and debts – student loans, medical bills, private school bills
- Credit card statement – all credit cards owned by spouses
- Monthly spending budget – both spouses
Don’t be surprised if you have trouble finding every one of these documents. In some cases, like with the list of personal possessions and monthly budgets, you may have to create them yourself using your best guess. When you can, make copies of each document. If you can’t find the documentation (such as the receipt for your wife’s diamond earrings), do your best to estimate the fair market value of the item so that your attorney at least has an idea of its worth.
If you live in Orange County and are looking for the right divorce attorney, consider Bohm Wildish. Our family law attorneys are highly experienced and are ready to fight hard so you can get the settlement you deserve.
Contact us to schedule a consultation.