Oct 1

10 Important Documents… You Need To Prepare For Divorce

Clients thinking about divorce will often contact me with questions about refinancing their marital home or buying a new one after a divorce. While I can answer some of their loan questions, they usually don’t have much documentation for their current finances and don’t know where to start. Here are the documents you need to start preparing for a possible divorce:

  1. Financial Statement – Summary of all assets and liabilities
  2. Credit Report – To show all individual and joint accounts
  3. Tax Returns – Personal and business tax returns with W-2s, 1099s, and K-1s
  4. Asset Statements – Bank/Investment statements including checking, savings, CDs, money markets, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, retirement accounts, and pensions
  5. Debt Statements – Personal and business debt including notes and monthly
  6. Employment Benefits – Plan details for any medical/dental, life, 401K/pension, etc.
  7. Insurance Policies – Details for any life/health/property policies, including cost, coverage, and beneficiaries
  8. Credit Card Statements – These can tell how much you really spend each month
  9. Household Budgets – One for your current expenses and for your future expenses
  10. Property Documents – Titles/Deeds, notes, monthly statements, appraisals, and closing documents for real estate, cars, boats, RVs, etc.

Ideally, you want to assemble and organize all of these documents going back 5 years. However, that can be difficult when many of the accounts may be in only one spouse’s name or you lived together before getting married. As a result, you often can’t get all of these items on your own.

Putting all of this documentation together will help you and your divorce professionals:

  • Calculate each of your income
  • List, value, and classify different asset types
  • Identify marital property and separate property
  • Detail all individual and joint debt
  • Document your living expenses
  • Find hidden assets
  • Reach an equitable settlement for all parties

The above list is just an initial list and everyone’s situation will have different requirements. The point is you need to start somewhere and this list will help you figure out what else you need.