Divorce is complicated. The toll is emotional as well as financial. Dividing up your marital property can be overwhelming. Divorce attorneys can help ease some of your legal and financial stress by protecting your rights.
If you decide to hire a divorce lawyer, you can save time by gathering important legal and financial documents before your initial consultation. Doing this ahead of time gives your attorney an overview of the property and assets likely involved in your divorce case. It will also make preparing your divorce documents easier.
The following is a list of important documents to show your divorce attorney. Many of these documents are optional for the initial consultation. Some listed may not apply to you. But if you can, it's a good idea to start collecting them for your attorney.
Keep in mind that everyone's case is unique. Consult your divorce attorney about any other documentation they may need to best represent you.
Documents to Show Your Attorney: A Divorce Checklist
- ____ Individual income tax returns for the last three years
- ____ Business income tax returns, if you own a business
- ____ Paystubs for you and your spouse or anything showing your spouse's income
- ____ Prenuptial agreement
- ____ Postnuptial agreement
- ____ Separation agreement
- ____ Bank account statements
- ____ Savings account statements
- ____ Any investments, like certificates of deposit (CD) or stocks
- ____ Any other bank statements
- ____ Powers of attorney paperwork
- ____ Health care directives or living wills
- ____ Registrations and titles, such as for a car or other vehicle
- ____ Other estate planning documents
- ____ Retirement account statements, like an IRA, 401(k), or pension
- ____ Retirement account statements from before your marriage
- ____ Trusts, either for you or your children
- ____ Most recent mortgage statements and documents
- ____ Mortgage statements from property owned before your date of marriage
- ____ Property tax statements
- ____ Real property appraisals
- ____ Rental agreement, if you don't own a home
- ____ Credit card statements from each card
- ____ Utility bills: cell phones, gas, electric, or water
- ____ Other bills, such as tuition, medical bills, or other debts
- ____ Auto loans and statements
- ____ Student loan information
- ____ Child-related expenses: daycare, tuition, lessons, insurance, or medications
- ____ Government benefits: social security, WIC, or SNAP/food assistance
- ____ Monthly budget worksheet
- ____ Completed financial statements
- ____ Life insurance policies and costs
- ____ Health insurance policies and costs
- ____ Personal property appraisals, such as for jewelry or heirlooms
- ____ List of personal property, such as furniture, jewelry, artwork, computers, or personal electronics
- ____ List of real estate or property owned before the marriage
- ____ Any inheritance or significant gift received during the marriage
- ____ List of contents of safety deposit boxes
- ____ Recent credit reports
- ____ Any other legal documents that may be helpful
Each divorce is different. If yours is an uncontested divorce, you may only need some things listed. But, to make sure your property division is fair, it is always a good idea to have an open and complete conversation with your attorney about everything relevant to your case.
Starting the Divorce Process: Related Resources
If you're starting or planning the divorce process, you may feel overwhelmed by everything required.
The process can be more emotionally draining and complicated if you have minor children. You need to consider child support and child custody arrangements. If you plan to stay in the marital home, you may need to ask for spousal support or alimony.
The following resources will help you make sense of your state's divorce laws and the divorce process:
If You're Getting Divorced, Don't Go It Alone: An Attorney Can Help
You need the right divorce attorney to guide you through the process. They will provide you with helpful legal advice and protect your rights. Find an experienced divorce attorney near you today.