When the divorce process is started, the first steps often deal with child issues-custody, parenting time, and child support - if applicable. The next steps then involve finances-living expenses, debt, and bill payments. Sometimes the reverse is the case in order of importance. The following are the top ten documents to have, or have access to, to help move your case forward in most divorce cases:
- Bank account and retirement statements: Bank accounts will generally be the places where money is immediately available and are the funds able to be used for current necessities. Be sure to have all passwords and the most recent account statement if possible. Retirements accounts are another group of funds that can be divided as part of the final dissolution. Statements are often issued quarterly or otherwise, so finding the most recent statement to the date the divorce was filed can be helpful in determining a division.
- Financial declaration: Courts often require a financial declaration to be filed, and it may even be served along with initial divorce pleadings. The financial declaration breaks down monthly expenses and values of items of the marital estate. It can help pull together other helpful financial documents for the division, as well.
- Paystubs: Your income, and the income of your spouse if available, are critical for issues such as child support and even potentially, the division of the marital estate. Have several available, including the most recent with year to date income and bonuses, if possible.
- Text messages/phone records/pictures: For purposes of gathering evidence, often text messages and other phone records along with pictures can be helpful in creating a case strategy. Often saving text messages or pictures taken on a phone to an email or other word processing document can ensure that they are maintained, as phones can be lost or broken, and information lost along with them.
- Medical invoices/records: Medical expenses and records may be relevant in determining the division of the estate or custody or spousal support issues. Having your records available can help your attorney work through these issues before negotiations or trial to help present your best case.
- School invoices/loans/daycare expenses-Whether school expenses are for you or your child(ren), they are often relevant in determining support or debts of the marriage to be addressed. If you have the latest invoice, receipt, or loan statement, bringing same to your attorney may help them create a plan for division or child support with the most recent information.
- Discovery-Discovery requests (interrogatories and requests for production) are also often served along with initial divorce paperwork or shortly thereafter. There is a time frame for answering same, so before meeting with an attorney, gather the paperwork and any documents that answer the questions or requests as this can save time and provide your attorney valuable information.
- Health insurance breakdown: Health insurance is often an issue that will need to be addressed in the final Divorce Decree. If you have a breakdown from your employer of how much it is for the employee, employee plus child, employee plus family, etc. to be insured, this can be used for child support or other issues for division.
- Appraisals: When dividing an estate, having the best values for personal property or real estate is key. Whether you have a recent appraisal or any paperwork for recently purchased items, the documentation can be used when determining the value and division of items in the marital estate without the need for further appraisals.
- Taxes: Income is relevant in almost every case, and can provide much needed information financially and for child support matters. Having your taxes from the previous year or two, including any W-2s, 1099s, etc. can save time on calculations and strategy when meeting with your attorney.
The information gathering in the dissolution process can create another layer of stress and complexity, and having as much information as you can gather before you go or early in the litigation can help you and your attorney create the strongest strategy from the outset. Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. attorneys practice throughout the State of Indiana and understand the significance of dissolution and planning for same. This blog post is written by Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. advocates and is not intended as specific legal advice or a solicitation for services. It is an advertisement.