As part of the legal process, you will be required to provide documents related to the family finances including income, debts, assets and valuations.
Your attorney is best able to represent you when the documents are provided in a complete and organized fashion. A complete document file can be instrumental to negotiating and resolving divorce issues without litigation. Even more significantly, however, if settlement is not possible, your documents may be absolutely necessary to support your case at trial. Once again, organization may help to reduce your legal fees. I would suggest organizing the documents by the categories set out below. You may wish to include a cover sheet with each category listing each document that you have included.
1. Your paycheck stubs from all sources of employment over the last year. At a minimum, try to provide paycheck stubs for the last three months. 2. If you can get them, your spouse's paycheck stubs for the same period of time. Those check stubs will often show year top date earnings and deductions. 3. If either you or your spouse is self-employed, any and all business documents demonstrating payments received or charges billed are necessary. This includes - (a) job bids (b) invoices for work performed (c) ledgers of payments received (d) Bank deposit slips (e) bank statements (f) independent contractor agreements (g) contracts agreements
If either you or your spouse is self-employed, documentation regarding business expenses is necessary. These may include check registers, canceled checks, payment receipts, check carbons, computerized income or expense records, financial statements, profit and loss statements, general ledgers. At a minimum, copies of your joint or individual tax returns, both state and federal, for the past three years. 6. Copies of any business tax returns for any business in which you or your spouse hold an interest for the past three years.
If either party works for cash, necessary documentation may include:
Check ledgers demonstrating expenses paid during marriage (a person working for cash will often have check registers that do not show payments for necessities of life such as groceries - the explanation for that omission is often cash payments) Any receipts for cash payments.
8. A copy of any financial statements or statements of net worth prepared by you or your spouse for the purpose of securing bank loans or for any other purpose. 9. Any other information that will help you establish your net worth, your spouse's net worth, your joint net worth, your income, and your spouse's income.
REAL ESTATE INFORMATION
Deeds, abstracts, and Torrens certificates showing the legal description of your homestead and any other real estate. Secure these from your mortgage company or lending institution if you do not have them. Current mortgage statements on the first mortgage, second mortgage and/or home equity loans on the homestead and any other real estate.
12. All papers and documents covering the initial purchase of the homestead including the purchase agreement.
Any and all documents refinancing the loans on any parcel of real estate owned during the marriage (those refinancing documents are likely to include and appraisal of the property and a statement regarding income of the parties). Tax assessor's statements on the homestead and other real properties.
SAVINGS AND CHECKING ACCOUNTS
15. Savings passbooks and savings certificates of individual or joint accounts held individually or jointly by you and your spouse. 16. Any and all bank statements for the past year from any account in your name or held jointly with your spouse.
If possible, list of corporate stocks or stock certificates owned by you and your spouse individually or jointly.
18. Any current life insurance policies on your life, your spouse's life or on your children whether it is an individual policy or a policy through your employer. To be complete you should provide any and all statements you have regarding that life insurance policy including any documents indicating a cash balance or loans against them.
19. An itemized list of all debts in either your name or the name of your spouse, with the attached invoices or statements for each. You should include any outstanding unsecured bills including credit cards, accounts payable, student loans and/or medical bills. The documents provided should include the statements at the time of your separation as well as the current balance.
DEFERRED COMPENSATION PLANS
20. A copy of the most recent statements for any:
profit sharing/401 K plan
21. Title or registration cards to all automobiles/boats/ATV's/snowmobiles or other motor vehicles owned by you or your spouse individually or jointly.
Any documents demonstrating the current outstanding secured debt on the automobiles/boats/snowmobiles/ATV's including payment coupons, amortization schedules or monthly invoices
Any job descriptions that may exist. A current resume for you and your spouse. Any benefits information related to you or your spouse's employment including health insurance information
Report Cards for the children. Medical Records for the children. Daycare records for the children. Any homework assignments that you have signed or approved.
NECESSARY MONTHLY EXPENSES
You should provide your lawyer with a list of necessary monthly expenses. You should be prepared to support your list with documentation that the expenses listed are accurate. It can be devastating to your case financially, if you embellish your monthly expenses to the point that they're unbelievable and unsupportable. A chart for itemizing your monthly expenses is included below.