Divorce preparation will allow your case to be less expensive and better organized. For many people, starting to make the life changing decision to begin a divorce case is mentally, physically and emotionally taxing. Understand that every matter is different and changes have occurred in the law recently. The internet, friends and even information from out of state attorneys may be useful or cause unnecessary issues. During this difficult time, it is vital that you properly begin to prepare for the legal aspects. For more information on gathering the required divorce documents and information on your spouse, see our blog post on spying. It is important that you act quickly because they may be working on this, too.
Obtaining Documents – (photocopy or scan these for your records):
A Clear Financial Picture
Income and Business Documents
- Paychecks – If you have ready access to your spouse’s paychecks, copies of a few months’ worth.
- Credit Report (this ensures all liabilities and assets are addressed.)
- Insurance documents (medical, dental, vision, auto, life, disability.)
- Social Security Earnings Statement (if you have been given access to your spouse’s statement, copy it.)
- Business income tax returns (federal, state and local.)
- Employment Contracts.
- Prior and current year tax returns.
- 401k and other retirement accounts – Any statements for accounts that you are allowed to review.
- Investment accounts, stocks, bonds and annuities.
- Deeds to all real property.
- Property tax records.
- Property insurance for any marital or non-marital property.
- Titles for all cars, boats, motorcycles and other vehicles.
- Bank statements – All bank statements that come to the home and are allowed for you to review.
- Passports (yours and those of any children.)
- Birth certificates and adoption records (yours and those of any children.)
- School records (yours and those of any children.)
- Diplomas (yours and those of any children.)
- Records of any domestic violence including police reports, prior orders of protection, pictures, videos.
- It is recommended that you take pictures of every room and create an inventory of belongings.
- Copies of all flyer miles and credit card point statements that you are allowed to review.
- Pet records.
- Medical records (yours and those of any children.)
- For every debt – mortgage, car loan, credit cards, secured and unsecured lines of credit, education debts, and all other debts – find out the name of the creditor, balance owing, security provided, interest rate and amortization, along with the monthly payment amount.
- Copies of all utilities, phone bills, credit card statements, other debt and recurring charges that you are allowed to review.
- Estate planning documents (Wills, Trusts.)
- Powers of Attorney
- Police reports filed by or against either party.
- Premarital agreements (prenuptial agreements.)
- Certificate of Marriage or Civil Union.
- Copy any family photos to a hard drive, thumb drive or cloud solution that only you have access to.
- Ensure that you have properly removed any “personal and private” photos from any shared device.
- Do you need to change beneficiaries on your insurance or pension policies?
- Have you changed all your passwords to electronic and personal financial accounts to restrict access?
- Should you schedule a doctor’s appointment to be tested for any health concerns that you may have? (This may be important if you suspect your spouse of infidelity)
- Do you need to speak to a counselor to care for your own health?
- Have you reviewed all your outstanding medical claims are up to date?
- Do you need to obtain quotes for your own health insurance?
- Have you found new place to live? Do you want to stay in the marital home? If so, can you afford it?
- Are there any special situations that apply to you – dependent parents, family with special needs, children from a prior relationship?
- Is there an inheritance that you need to protect?
- Don’t involve the children in your divorce. Don’t talk to them about the problems you are having settling your affairs with the other parent.
- Watch for changes in your child(ren)’s behavior. Schedule a meeting for them to speak with someone if you see fit. Alert their teachers in case they see changes you should be made aware of.
This list does not cover all the bases- your case may require more or less preparation. In every case there are ups and downs and stress can also ebb and flow but having an attorney to partner with you will help you with the case. We hope that the journey to creating your new normal is all that you wish for it to be and know the Law Office of Bradley L. Schencker is here to help you in this process.