The emotional toll of filing for divorce is already more than enough.
But attempting to make sure that all of the paperwork is in order doesn’t make it any easier.
This is because filing for divorce gets even harder when your spouse continues to complicate things and prevents you from gathering necessary paperwork.
In this article, we will cover what you need for your divorce preparation checklist so that you don’t miss out on anything important when it comes to signing the divorce papers.
Being prepared also helps you reduce your costs of divorce.
So keep reading to learn more.
What Do I Do If My Spouse Controls Most of the Records?
It’s very common for one spouse in the marriage to be in charge of most of the paperwork and records for the entire family.
The downside to this is that if that person is not you, you might encounter many problems when it comes to getting what you need.
Some spouses will try to hide information.
Others will simply be difficult when it comes to giving you the documents.
There might be moments when the spouse completely refuses to help you.
That’s why it’s recommended that you can gather as much information as possible before you make them aware of your intentions.
By divorce laws, as a member of the marriage, you are entitled to seeing all of the necessary documentation, but this does not mean you’ll easily get a hold of it.
For instance, in an acrimonious divorce, you will need to rely on the discovery process.
(Acrimonious divorce is one full of anger, resentment, and bitterness.)
The discovery process is quite formal and uses interrogatories and subpoenas, which force the spouse to answer truthfully about where the paperwork is.
In other cases, you might need to hire the services of a forensic accountant.
A certified financial planner for divorce will also know what is required.
In any case, it might be difficult, but it’s best that you can communicate with each other as you exchange documentation.
Some couples will find it incredibly difficult to speak to their spouse after the legal separation, but that’s part of the experience.
Nonetheless, just because you’re no longer together, that does not mean that your relationship is done with them.
The Divorce Preparation Checklist
Depending on the complexity of your divorce, you will need to gather as much as possible when it comes to the listed information.
Also, keep in mind that each and every divorce is different.
So there might be additional information that you will need to gather, beyond that what has been outlined in this divorce checklist.
And in some cases, the points in this list will have no application to your divorce.
So it’s recommended that you hire a qualified divorce lawyer who will be able to assist you in compiling a divorce preparation checklist tailored to your marriage.
These lists are everything you will need when filing for divorce.
First, let’s talk about what you should do when preparing for divorce.
The Divorce Preparation Checklist: Before Filing
You are preparing for a rocky road ahead.
This is a short list of things you should to before you file for divorce so that you can begin the separation more easily.
These are things that we have seen couples do who have the smoothest divorces.
- Gather Financial Records
- Open a Post Office Box
- Start Saving Money for Legal Fees
- Open a New Checking and Savings Account
- Open a Credit Card In Your Name
- Get a Free Credit Report
- Change Your Will and Testament and Your Power of Attorney
- Change Insurance and Retirement Account Beneficiaries
- Inventory Your Pre Marital and Marital Property
Gather Personal Information
- Personal information: Name, DOB, SSN, Address, Numbers, Emails
- State residency proof (driver’s license, utility bills)
- Employer information: Name, Address, Numbers, Salaries, Tax Returns
- Spouse’s information: Name, DOB, SSN, Address, Numbers, Emails
- A location where to serve your spouse with divorce papers
- Custody arrangements
- Previous marriages
- Children from previous marriages
- Child support
- Alimony agreement
- Health insurance
- Wedding details: where and when you were married.
- Therapist information
- Marital problem list (common reasons for divorce)
- Temporary court orders
- Birth certificates for children
- Separation agreements
- Prenuptial agreements and postnup agreements (prenup alimony)
- Property settlement agreement
- Domestic partnership certification
- Various lifestyle expenses (school tuition, unreimbursed medical bills, extracurricular costs for children)
- Monthly budget
- Money owed (who you owe money to, your balance, and monthly payments)
- Livestock (in a divorce who gets the dog)
- Property owned prior to marriage (retirement funds, cars, property, businesses)
- Property acquired by gift
- Inheritance: who is was from how much, and what you did with it.
- Safety deposit box contents
As you can see the list gets pretty overwhelming quickly, so that’s why we have decided to condense it a little bit.
For a more comprehensive, customized solution, get in touch with a lawyer who can assist you.
Let’s take a look at some of the financial information that you should gather prior to filing for divorce.
As mentioned, some of these points might be optional and not applicable to you, so keep your eyes peeled.
- Last three months and most recent year-end statements
- Year-to-date earnings records (pay stubs)
- Accrued vacation hours (a screenshot of your employer’s portal)
- Tax returns, state & federal
- Partnership and Corporate tax returns (for businesses and assets)
- Financial statements
- Employment offer letters
- Employment contracts
- Profit & loss statements for the past 5 years
- Business tax returns
- Buy-sell agreements
- Credit applications and loans for business
- Business appraisal
- Grant deeds
- Market value opinions on the real estate property
- Escrow statements for purchase/sale
- Last, refinance statements
- The cost basis of the home
- Forms for sale or exchange of principal residence
In any case, these 20 inferences of financial documentation are more than enough to determine ownership over financial properties.
However, if you find that information hard to gather, you can look through the supplementary finances checklist
Supplementary Finances Checklist
If you thought the above covered all of the financial aspects of a divorce, you have mistaken. Financial documentation is often the most verbose and difficult to organize out of all of the necessary evidence. So tread carefully.
- Lines of credit
- Rental property records
- Vacation property records
- Tax assessor statements
- All current statements
- Children’s statements
- Tax refunds
- Disability & life insurance policies
- Other policies
- Secured Notes
- Mutual funds
- Retirement pensions and accounts
- Deferred compensation
- Unsecured notes
- Stock purchase plans
- Intellectual property
- All business interests
And that’s more than enough for you to start your document organization.
As you can see, the supplementary list of your divorce preparation checklist is not exhaustive, but it is certainly comprehensive.
Many of these points might not apply to you.
This why you should consider hiring a divorce attorney so that they can walk you through everything that you will need to file for the divorce.
Your Divorce Lawyer
Now that you how grueling filing for divorce is in terms of information-gathering, you are well on your way to begin uncovering these hidden documents, and organizing them into a digestible manner for the courts and divorce lawyers.
We understand that gathering documentation can be difficult when your spouse is quit literally preventing you from doing so, but that’s why you need the help of a divorce attorney.
If you’re interested in working with us to get your divorce underway, fill out the form below for your FREE divorce consultation.
There’s no obligation to use us if you get a free consultation. And even if we aren’t a good fit, we can point you in the right direction.
After your divorce and division of assets, you may want to consider redoing your will and estate planning.
Even if you don’t have assets, your spouse is no longer your emergency contact and you might want to appoint a power of attorney in the event of a medical emergency.
You may not want doctors that you don’t know making major life decisions for you in the event of an emergency.