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The 10 Documents you need to gather to prepare for a divorce....

The 10 Documents you need to gather to prepare for a divorce....

The only thing worse

When someone is considering ending a marriage, they often start by gathering the information the think they need....

Even with the best of intentions most people don't get the things they will actually need to provide to either their lawyer, the other party, or the Court. Some lawyers would have you believe that the information you need to gather is a secret, or is a matter of their specific expertise, and that just isn't true.

We want to take the mystery out of the process, so with that in mind, here are the 10 most important documents to gather in preparation of a divorce. This list is not all-inclusive, nor is it exhaustive, but it is the minimum you should gather to give the case an easy start.

1. Financial Documents - specifically - proof of income from all sources, specifically completed tax returns, W-2 forms, 1099 forms, and K-1 forms, for the past two (2) calendar years, and year to date income information for the current calendar year, including, but not limited to, year-to-date pay stubs, salaries, wages, commissions, bonuses, dividends, severance pay, pensions, interest, trust income, annuities, capital gains, social security benefits, worker's compensation benefits, unemployment insurance benefits,disability insurance benefits, recurring gifts, prizes, and spousal maintenance.

a) Proof of court-ordered child support and spousal maintenance actually paid in any case other than this one;

b) Proof of all medical, dental, and vision insurance premiums paid for any child listed or referenced in the petition;

c) Proof of any child care expenses paid for any child listed or referenced in the petition;

d) Proof of any expenses paid to private or special schools or other particular education needs of a child listed or referenced in the petition; and

e) Proof of any expenses paid for the special needs of a gifted or handicapped child listed or referenced in the petition.

2. Property - Unless you and the other party have entered into a written agreement disposing of all property issues, or no property is at issue, each of you must provide to the other the following information:

a) Copies of all deeds, deeds of trust, purchase agreements, escrow documents, settlement sheets, and all other documents that disclose the ownership, legal description, purchase price and encumbrances of all real property owned by either party;

b) Copies of all monthly or periodic bank, checking, savings, brokerage and security account statements in which either of you has or had an interest for the period commencing six (6) months prior to the filing of the petition and through the date the information was provided to the other party;

c) Copies of all monthly or periodic statements and documents showing the value of all pension, retirement, stock options, and annuity balances, including Individual Retirement Accounts, 401 (k) accounts, and all other retirement and employee benefits and accounts in which you have or had an interest for the period commencing six (6) months prior to filing of the petition and through the date of the disclosure, or if no monthly or quarterly statements are available for this time period, the most recent statements or documents that disclose the information;

d) Copies of all monthly or periodic statements and documents showing that cash surrender value, face value, and premiums charged for all life insurance policies in which either party has an interest for the period commencing six (6) months prior to filing of the petition and through the date of the disclosure, or if no monthly or quarterly statements are available for this time period, the most recent statements or documents that disclose the information;

e) Copies of all documents that may assist in identifying or valuing any item of real or personal property in which you or the other party have or had an interest for the period commencing six (6) months prior to the filing of the petition, including any documents that the party may rely upon in placing a value on any item of real or personal property.

f) Copies of all business tax returns, balance sheets, profit or loss statements, and all documents that may assist in identifying or valuing any business or business interest for the last two (2) completed calendar or fiscal years with respect to any business or entity in which any party has or had an interest; and

g) A list of all items of personal property, including, but not limited to, household furniture, furnishings, antiques, artwork, vehicles, jewelry and similar items in which any party has an interest, together with the party's estimates of current fair market value (not replacement value) for each item.

3. Debts - Unless you and the other party have entered into an agreement disposing of all debts issues, you will need to provide the following information:

a) Copies of all monthly or periodic statements and documents showing the balances owing on all mortgages, notes, liens, and encumbrances outstanding against all real property and personal property in which the path has or had in interest for the period commencing six (6) months prior to the filing of the petition and through the date of disclosure, or if no monthly or quarterly statements are available during this time period, the most recent statements or documents that disclose the information; and

b) Copies of all credit card statements and debt statements for all months for the period commencing six (6) months prior to the filing of the petition and through the date of disclosure.

4. Health/Dental/Vision insurance plans - with premium breakdowns for all plan options.

5. School Records - This is specifically for the kids common to the parties.

6. Employment records - (to include your schedule, length of employment, position etc.).

7. Text or email communication with the opposing party - that would benefit you. Remember that this sword cuts both ways, and the Court is far from stupid, they have seen the old "only show 1/2 of the conversation" trick and the other party will likely bring the whole record.

8. Any police reports, orders of protection or court records - concerning you, the opposing party or children. Domestic violence, abuse, neglect, etc....

9. Disclosure of Witnesses - you will need to provide the names, addresses and telephone numbers of any witness whom you expect to call to trial, along with a statement fairly describing the substance of each witness's expected testimony. You have to provide this information to the other party at least sixty (60) days before trial, unless a different deadline is ordered by the court.

10. Continuing Duty to Disclose - You have duty to make additional or amended disclosures whenever new or different information is discovered or revealed.

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