Divorce is a complicated process that will impact your finances, personal life and emotions. In a perfect world, you would file for divorce and move through each step in a timely and cordial manner.
While this may happen for some people, it's more likely that you'll run into challenges along the way. To help avoid setbacks, gather all the information you need up front. With the right documents in hand, you never have to worry about digging something up on short notice.
Here is a list of some of the things you'll need:
- Income tax returns. Collect federal, state and local returns for the last five years.
- Proof of current income. The best way to prove your current income is with a recent paystub.
- Prenuptial agreement. If you signed this document before tying the knot, you'll want to review it in great detail once you decide to divorce. It could impact many parts of your divorce agreement, such as matters of property and debt division.
- Bank statements. Gather bank statements for all accounts over the past six months. To be safe, get copies of statements for both individual and joint accounts.
- Retirement account statements. Retirement funds are often a sticking point in a divorce, so you'll want to have these statements close by as you move forward.
- Mortgage statements. Many divorcing couples argue about who will get the family home. Even if you don't suspect this will happen, you should still gather your most recent mortgage statements.
- Monthly budget. Regardless of the form in which you keep your monthly budget, you'll want to have this on hand during your divorce. It can help you when making property division decisions, as well as when planning for the future.
Along with the above, keep in mind that your soon to be ex-spouse may attempt to hide important documents from the court. For example, they may look for ways to hide bank accounts so they aren't subject to division. You'll want to keep this in mind so that the other party doesn't get away with it.
You can never go overboard when it comes to collecting documents in advance of your divorce. Once you have these in front of you, it's easier to prepare for divorce with the idea of efficiently moving through the process.