When initiating a divorce, preparation can make a huge difference. Throughout a marriage, spouses obtain thousands of assets from family heirlooms to wardrobes, investment portfolios to pension plans. In order to equitably divide a household’s assets between spouses, lawyers need to work with proper documentation and valuation of these assets.

Assembling the financial documents required for divorce can take a while but will likely save spouses time during the negotiations.

Financial document checklist

Spouses can make divorce negotiations easier by preparing the following documents:

  • Income tax returns and other income information: Negotiations require all federal, state, local, and personal property tax returns for each spouse from the last five years. Include personal, corporate, partnership, joint venture, and any other relevant documents. Make sure to highlight expected refunds as well. Other documents can include payroll stubs, investment property, lottery winnings, and other information.
  • Professional and business records: Spouses should provide documents on all business ventures, both personal and joint. Include ledgers, financial records, stock options, and other related data.
  • Itemized assets: Equitable property division will go much easier if spouses supply an itemized list of personal and joint property. Include appraisals, contracts, insurance policies, deeds, mortgages, titles, lease agreements, and other relevant information on all personal property. Do not forget safety deposit boxes.
  • Legal documentation: Provide all documentation on rulings of any legal action involving either spouse. Lawyers require the identification of plaintiffs, defendants and damages paid or received.
  • Estate plans: A couple’s estate plan will likely need revisions. Spouses should supply life insurance documentation, wills, living wills, trust agreements, retirement accounts, and any other relevant information. Make sure to adjust the beneficiaries of insurance payouts to reflect the couple’s new living situation.

Consult with an attorney

Spouses preparing for divorce can find answers to pressing questions by working with a local lawyer familiar with divorce law. An attorney can provide context for the requirements and keep spouses informed on procedures and expectations. Divorces require a significant amount of paperwork, which a lawyer can help locate and organize to best prepare spouses.