Divorce is complicated - legally, financially, and emotionally. Dividing up property a couple has acquired throughout their marriage (also known as marital property) can be one of the most contentious aspects of divorce. Luckily, divorce attorneys can help alleviate some of your legal and financial stresses by advocating for a division of property that works in your favor.
If you have decided to retain a divorce attorney, you can help save your attorney time (and save yourself some money), by gathering important legal and financial documents together before meeting with your attorney. Doing this ahead of time gives your attorney an immediate and useful overview of the property and assets likely to be at issue in your case. Most importantly, it allows the two of you to work together to secure your short and long-term interests. These documents include:
|____||Individual income tax returns for past three to five years (federal, state, and local)|
|____||Business income tax returns for past three to five years (federal, state, and local)|
|____||Proof of your current income|
|____||Proof of spouse's current income|
|____||Certificates of deposit|
|____||Retirement account statements|
|____||Property tax statements|
|____||Credit card statements|
|____||Other bills (e.g., school tuition, unreimbursed medical bills, music lessons for children, etc.)|
|____||Monthly budget worksheet|
|____||Completed financial statements|
|____||Life insurance policies|
|____||Health insurance policies|
|____||Homeowner's insurance policies|
|____||Automobile insurance policies|
|____||Personal property appraisals|
|____||Real property appraisals|
|____||List of personal property, including home furnishings, jewelry, artwork, computers, home office equipment, clothing and furs, etc.|
|____||List of property owned by each spouse prior to marriage|
|____||List of property acquired by each spouse individually by gift or inheritance during the marriage|
|____||List of contents of safety deposit boxes|
|____||Powers of Attorney|
|____||Durable Powers of Attorney|
|____||Advance Health Care Directives|
As you can see, the above list extensive -- yet, it is not exhaustive. Every divorce is different since every couple enters and leaves a marriage under different circumstances and with different assets. Therefore, to ensure no property is overlooked, it is always a good idea to have an open and frank conversation with your attorney regarding all of the property and assets relevant to your case.
For more information on marital property division, free to check out FindLaw's section on divorce and property. If you have more general questions, you may want to check out FindLaw's divorce section. Finally, if you do not yet have one, consider retaining a local divorce attorney.
If You're Getting Divorced, Don't Go it Alone: An Attorney Can Help
Divorce is a gut wrenching experience, but a knowledgeable divorce attorney can guide you through the process to ensure your financial security. From initial coaching on what documents to bring to your first consultation all the way through hearings, trial and executing court orders, your divorce attorney must be a partner whom you trust.