It’s good to be prepared.
Before you and your ex can start the process of divorce your lawyer will need information from you both concerning your marriage and the documentation that verifies your union. This will include proof of income, tax documents, and paperwork that describes your assets.
Lawyers need this documentation to complete the divorce process. Documents provide proof that will override or verify any claims you or your spouse may make.
One example of this would be a spouse who claims that they paid for the mortgage for your home with funds that were not in your joint checking account. They may do this as a way to retain an interest in the home, but if there are documents that prove otherwise, your lawyer can dispute this claim.
Here are six documents you need to complete your divorce.
1. Income-related documents
You’ll have to give your lawyer pay stubs from any type of employment you’ve held over the past year. If you work for yourself, give your attorney tax returns or other tax/business forms to prove you are self-employed. If you or your spouse held an interest in any company in the last three years, be sure to submit this paperwork to your lawyer as well.
Your spouse must also submit pay stubs for the past year. The check stubs usually show year-to-date deductions and earnings. Your ex will also have to give the lawyer documentation to prove self-employment and proof of income, if applicable, as well as profit and loss statements and financial statements.
In terms of tax documents, your attorney will need a copy of at least three years’ worth of joint and/or individual state and federal tax returns. If you and your ex-spouse received cash for your work, be sure to give your lawyer check ledger copies that prove that you worked for cash at any point during the last few years of your marriage.
Don’t forget to give your attorney copies of your financial and net worth statements that you and your spouse used to secure loans.
2. Real estate documents
Your legal counsel needs to see all legal paperwork proving that you and your spouse owned real estate together or individually. You can get these documents from your bank or mortgage company.
You also have to give your attorney your mortgage statements for your commercial and residential properties. If your real estate was financed, all paperwork that pertains to refinance has to be submitted to your lawyer. Your attorney should also have all tax assessor’s statements for all the real estate you own.
3. Joint financial account documents
You have to give savings certificates for joint and individual accounts, as well as a saving passbook, to your legal counsel. Your lawyer should have all bank statements for the last two years for any accounts that you held with your spouse.
4. Life insurance documents
If you and your spouse have life insurance, you have to submit all documents pertaining to life insurance for you, your spouse, or your children, whether the policy is individual or through your place of work. If you have documents that prove that you took out a loan or cash advance against these insurance policies, you should present these to your lawyer as well.
5. Marital debt documents
Give your attorney a list of all unsecured and outstanding debts that you and your spouse share. This includes medical bills, credit cards, and other loans that are in your spouse’s name or your name.
6. Pension fund documents
Present a copy of all statements pertaining to your retirement funds, pension funds, mutual funds, IRAs, and 401K plans. This provides more information on your finances so the judge will know how to properly award alimony and/or child support in the divorce.
When you’re preparing your divorce paperwork, make sure you keep copies for yourself so you can have these documents in hand any time you need them.