Divorce Preparation Checklist: Surviving the Experience

Divorce Preparation Checklist - Checklist For Divorce Preparation

A divorce preparation checklist will reduce the emotional toll of filing for divorce.

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.

Divorce can be devastating. It’s heartbreaking when parents lose custody of their children. Spouses end up having to pay agonizing amounts of financial support.

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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.)

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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 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.

This is especially true if you are filing for divorce with children and child custody is a part of your divorce process.

The better you cooperate, the easier and quicker the divorce will be, leaning towards a more amicable divorce experience (and a more affordable 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.

  1. Gather Financial Records
  2. Open a Post Office Box
  3. Start Saving Money for Legal Fees
  4. Open a New Checking and Savings Account
  5. Open a Credit Card In Your Name
  6. Get a Free Credit Report
  7. Change Your Will and Testament and Your Power of Attorney
  8. Change Insurance and Retirement Account Beneficiaries
  9. Inventory Your Pre Marital and Marital Property

Gather Personal Information

  1. Personal information: Name, DOB, SSN, Address, Numbers, Emails
  2. State residency proof (driver’s license, utility bills)
  3. Employer information: Name, Address, Numbers, Salaries, Tax Returns
  4. Spouse’s information: Name, DOB, SSN, Address, Numbers, Emails
  5. A location where to serve your spouse with divorce papers
  6. Custody arrangements
  7. Previous marriages
  8. Children from previous marriages
  9. Child support
  10. Alimony agreement
  11. Health insurance
  12. Wedding details: where and when you were married.
  13. Therapist information
  14. Marital problem list (common reasons for divorce)
  15. Temporary court orders
  16. Birth certificates for children
  17. Separation agreements
  18. Prenuptial agreements and postnup agreements (prenup alimony)
  19. Property settlement agreement
  20. Domestic partnership certification
  21. Various lifestyle expenses (school tuition, unreimbursed medical bills, extracurricular costs for children)
  22. Monthly budget
  23. Money owed (who you owe money to, your balance, and monthly payments)
  24. Livestock (in a divorce who gets the dog)
  25. Property owned prior to marriage (retirement funds, cars, property, businesses)
  26. Property acquired by gift
  27. Inheritance: who is was from how much, and what you did with it.
  28. 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.

Financial Information

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.

  1. Last three months and most recent year-end statements
  2. Year-to-date earnings records (pay stubs)
  3. Accrued vacation hours (a screenshot of your employer’s portal)
  4. Tax returns, state & federal
  5. Partnership and Corporate tax returns (for businesses and assets)
  6. Financial statements 
  7. Employment offer letters
  8. Employment contracts
  9. Profit & loss statements for the past 5 years
  10. Business tax returns 
  11. Buy-sell agreements 
  12. Credit applications and loans for business
  13. Business appraisal 
  14. Grant deeds
  15. Market value opinions on the real estate property
  16. Escrow statements for purchase/sale
  17. Last, refinance statements
  18. The cost basis of the home
  19. Forms for sale or exchange of principal residence
  20. Mortgages

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.

  1. Lines of credit
  2. Rental property records
  3. Vacation property records
  4. Tax assessor statements
  5. All current statements
  6. Children’s statements
  7. Cash
  8. Tax refunds
  9. Disability & life insurance policies
  10. Other policies
  11. Investments
  12. Secured Notes
  13. Bonds
  14. Stocks
  15. Mutual funds
  16. Retirement pensions and accounts
  17. IRAs
  18. Annuities
  19. Deferred compensation
  20. Profit-sharing
  21. Unsecured notes
  22. Stock purchase plans
  23. Intellectual property
  24. 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.

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This means you don’t get raked over the coals financially.

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