It's no secret that the divorce process can be incredibly challenging to navigate. Divorces can take a significant amount of time to finalize, and include other complex legal matters such as property division, spousal support, and child custody.
Understanding the divorce process more thoroughly at the outset can help you navigate your divorce with confidence if you're entering a divorce. Our divorce checklist can help you prepare yourself for the realities of divorce.
Prepare Personal Documents Ahead of Time
You should have documents such as your:
- Social Security card;
- birth certificate;
- bank account information;
- proof of residency;
- proof of employment;
- educational history;
- estate planning documents, such as a will or living trust, if you have them;
- list of separate property (property/assets/liabilities acquired before the marriage or with no involvement from your partner);
- list of marital property (property/assets/liabilities acquired with your partner during the marriage);
- inheritance documents;
- any relevant information concerning children you share with your spouse (date of birth, Social Security, medical records, etc.); and
- any other documents you think are essential (medical records, for example);
available and ready for use at the outset of your divorce. For certain documents, such as your birth certificate, making a notarized copy may be preferable to using the original document. We suggest you keep these documents in a safety deposit box.
Some of these items, such as proof of employment and your education record, may be used by the court to determine how quickly you can re-enter the workforce if you request spousal support from your partner. Other documents, such as a list of separate and marital property, can assist you during the property division process.
Work with your attorney and other professionals (such as a Certified Public Accountant [CPA]) to determine what documents you should procure prior to divorce. As a general rule of thumb, the more documentation you have and the more well-kept it is, the better.
Know What Financial Documents You Need
Again, this is where working with a CPA or other financial professional can come in handy (your attorney can also help you with this process or refer another professional to you). At a minimum, you want the following documents on hand:
- Information to verify your income, such as payment stubs (ideally, as many as you can collect) and any employment documents you received from your employer.
- Tax returns. Try and get tax returns from the last five years. If you don't have your tax returns on hand, your attorney can help you request them from the IRS.
- Any business-related financial information. If you own any sort of business, you'll also want to collect as much financial information (including tax returns) from that as you can.
- Any and all information pertaining to separate and marital property. Expanding on your documentation a bit, you should collect the deeds for any property you own or are involved in, as well as financial appraisals of your assets. Documents such as mortgages or information about lines of credit are a must. You should also note that assets like joint bank/investment accounts and retirement accounts are marital property, so make a record of those as well. You should also gather a list of any liabilities you have, such as debts. During the property division process, you will be asked to completely disclose all property, assets, and liabilities you own, so get ahead of the game and do it now.
If you need help understanding what documents you should prepare before divorce, give us a call! At Beatriz Zyne, P.A., we have a wealth of experience helping clients navigate the divorce process.
You can contact us online or via phone at (305) 876-6138 for a consultation with our team.