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've decided to retain legal counsel, you can help save your divorce attorney time (and save yourself some money) by gathering important legal and financial documents together before the initial consultation. 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.
The following is a list of documents to show your divorce attorney, however keep in mind that everyone's case is unique and may require additional documentation.
Documents to Show Your Divorce Attorney: A Checklist
|____||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.
Starting the Divorce Process: Related Resources
If you're just starting the divorce process or planning to do so, you may feel overwhelmed by all of the steps required. If you also have children, the process can be much more emotionally draining. The following resources will help you make sense of your state's divorce laws and the divorce process in general.
If You're Getting Divorced, Don't Go it Alone: An Attorney Can Help
After determining which documents to show your divorce attorney at that first consultation, you'll want to find the right attorney. But just because a lawyer has a lot of experience and great credentials doesn't mean they're necessarily the right fit, since style and personalities vary widely. If you need legal counsel, find an experienced divorce attorney near you today.