The decision to divorce from your spouse is often loaded with many emotional, financial, and lifestyle considerations. Everyone who thinks about, or decides to, divorce has different reasons. Divorce can be a very emotional decision and process, the loss of a loved one and relationship can be very devastating, and if there are children, learning how to co-parent and help your children adjust to the changes of their parents no longer being together can be a rough path to navigate. On the other hand, the process of divorce has a business side to it too. Oftentimes during a marriage, couples acquire property (a house and all its furnishings, cars, a family owned business, etc.), and your financial lives become tied together, from investments, to taxes, to sharing your incomes. These are things that need to be divided and unpacked so that each spouse can move forward in his or her single life.
If you are considering divorce, and looking to meet with an attorney, some of the first pieces of information your attorney will need you to gather are:
- The last 3 years of tax returns
- The last 3 years of credit card statements
- If you have any brokerage (stocks, mutual funds, etc) accounts, retirement accounts (IRA or 401k), the last 3 years of statements (possibly longer if you had these accounts before the marriage).
- Deeds or Titles to any property owned (a house or car)
- Copies and statements for any life insurance policies (whole or term)
- Medical insurance information, especially if both spouses are covered under one plan and/or through one spouses’ employer’s plan
- Current mortgage statement, showing the principle balance remaining
- Current auto loan statements
- Documentation of any other debt and current statements (i.e. Student Loans, Home Equity Lines of Credit, etc.)
These are just some basic housekeeping documents that your legal counsel will need to help understand the full scope of the marital estate (debts and assets). If you do not have these documents available, your legal counsel can serve discovery requests upon the opposing side asking them to produce these documents, or serve requests upon financial institutions to produce them, but this can be a costly and timely process. Therefore, the more information you can gather on your own, the more efficiently and less costly the divorce process will go.
We hope that you have found this information to be helpful in understanding some financial planning considerations if you are contemplating divorce. This is not intended to be legal advice. If you have questions or concerns about your specific case, CIYOU & DIXON, P.C. can help evaluate your specific case. This blog post was written by Attorney, Lori B. Schmeltzer.