One key area where your lawyer needs documentation from you is your financial assets and debts. During the divorce the community property of the marriage will be divided between you and your spouse. In order to make an equitable division, all assets and debts need to be identified and documented. Gathering this documentation is well worth the effort. The sooner you and your attorney have all this information organized, the sooner you can plan how to divide it in the divorce.
The first time you sit down and speak with your divorce attorney, you will have a lot on your mind. Most people are focused on the things that are changing in their lives and the decisions they have to make about the future. Where are they are going to live? Who the children are going to live with?
While you have many questions to ask your lawyer, there is also important information your lawyer needs to find out from you. One key area where your lawyer needs documentation from you is your financial assets and debts. During the divorce the community property of the marriage will be divided between you and your spouse. In order to make an equitable division, all assets and debts need to be identified and documented.
Building an accurate record of all the assets and debts in the marriage can require a lot of paperwork. Gathering this documentation is well worth the effort. The sooner you and your attorney have all this information organized, the sooner you can plan how to divide it in the divorce.
Bringing these five types of documentation to the first meeting with your divorce attorney will get everything started on the right foot.
Proof of Income
Documenting how much money both you and your spouse make is a key first step in organizing your financial status. While income is not an asset that can be divided, it is the primary factor in determining child support. If spousal support will be an issue in your divorce, the amount and duration of the support depends on the difference between you and your spouse’s incomes.
Bring your attorney tax returns for the last five years showing both you and your spouse’s income.
Bank Accounts and Stocks
It is important to know how much money you and your spouse currently have in the bank. You will want to bring current statements for all checking and savings accounts you or your spouse have at any bank or credit union. Also bring statements for any Certificate of Deposits (CD)s or other accounts.
You will also want to bring records of any stocks and bonds you or your spouse own as well as current statements for any brokerage or investments accounts you have. Make sure your documentation clearly shows the account name, account number, and institution where the account is held.
Your Home and Other Property
Properly dividing real estate and other property during a divorce requires organization and strategy. Unlike the balance in a bank account, a house or car cannot simply be cut in half. Will one spouse stay in the house with the children? Or should it be sold and the proceeds divided? Answering such questions requires a clear accounting of all property owned in the marriage.
Bring copies of all deeds and tax bills for any real estate and vehicles owned by you or your spouse. You will also want to provide the most recent appraisals done on any properties. This will allow your lawyer to start determining the value of the property and how it might be divided.
Property can also be a debt in the divorce. Bring copies of any mortgages or loans you have against your real estate or other property. The outstanding debts will balance the value of the assets.
Credit Cards and Loans
Besides mortgages and vehicle loans, credit cards and other loans are the most common debts in a marriage. In order to make sure all debts are equitably distributed in the divorce, you will want to ensure your lawyer has documentation on all credit cards and other loans held by you or your spouse.
Provide statements showing the account names, numbers, lending institution, and current balance on all credit cards or other loans.
Pension plans, 401(k)s, and other retirement accounts are often considered as part of community property during a divorce. It is important to have an accurate record of the value of each retirement account for you and your spouse.
Provide your lawyer with current Summary Plan Descriptions (SPD)s or statements for any pension plans, 401(k)s, IRAs, or other retirement plans.
Health insurance plans and life insurance policies are important during a divorce. If you currently cover your spouse on your health insurance plan, you will want to discuss with your attorney when you should remove your spouse from coverage. Health insurance coverage for your children will also likely be discussed along with child support.
Some life insurance policies may also be part of the assets of the divorce. Your lawyer will want to know the type and value of the life insurance policy. Provide your lawyer with documentation for each insurance policy, including policy names, title, insurers, and beneficiaries.
If you or your spouse own or co-own any business, you will want to provide full information to your lawyer. Bring documentation that shows the name of each company, partnership, or business as well as any corporate documents. Make sure the documents show the percentage of ownership held by you or your spouse. As business entities can also have assets and debts, you will want to consult with your lawyer to see what property of the business will be part of the divorce.
Gathering the paperwork together to document your property may seem like a large task. It is extremely vital to the success of your divorce. Waiting to locate documents and deliver them to your attorney will only delay your case and make the divorce process take longer. Showing up to your first meeting with the paperwork already organized will make the entire process easier and faster.
Talk to a Washington Divorce Lawyer
Divorce Lawyers For Men™ attorneys help husbands and fathers going through divorce. Meet in person with a Washington divorce lawyer who will be happy to explain the financial aspects of divorce. Call us today at 877-866-7393 to speak with an attorney who understands your situation and can offer real help.
If you would like more information on the divorce process, or to take the best divorce resources with you in print, please check out our free divorce guide for men or contact our office to meet with an attorney about your particular circumstances.
Answers to more financial questions about divorce: