Divorce is a complex undertaking that involves quite a bit of paperwork. It is helpful to gather these documents prior to an initial consultation with a divorce lawyer. A bit of organization up front helps to prevent unwanted surprises and costly delays further along in the process.

The following are the essential documents needed for a divorce.

Premarital or Postnuptial Agreements

If a premarital or postnuptial agreement exists, sharing it with the divorce lawyer is the first step in the process. The lawyer carefully reviews the documents to determine if they are enforceable and if so, how they will impact the division of property and other financial terms of divorce.

Pay Stubs and Income Tax Returns

The lawyer will need pay stubs for both spouses from all employment sources for the previous year. Information on year-to-date earnings and deductions should be included somewhere. In addition, state and federal joint or individual tax returns will be needed for the previous three to five years.

Couples who own a business should also provide any documents related to business expenses, including bank statements, canceled checks, profit and loss statements, and business tax records.

Statements for Joint Financial Accounts

This includes checking and savings accounts statements for individual and joints accounts, going back at least three years if possible. Statements for any individual and joint retirement and investments accounts should be compiled as well.

Real Estate Information

Couples divide marital assets when they divorce. That includes the primary home, vacation homes, and investment properties. Documents needed include mortgage records, appraisals, property tax records, and homeowner’s insurance policies for any properties owned by one or both spouses.

Marital Debts

Many couples enter the divorce process with some amount of debt. Some are surprised to learn they are liable for any debt acquired by their spouses over the course of the marriage, depending on local state divorce law. The lawyer will need to see copies of credit card statements, loans, and other debts in either spouse’s name.

Medical Expenses

Health insurance information should be shared with the lawyer. Any outstanding medical bills and anticipated expenses for future care should be documented. It is important to include costs for eyeglasses, braces, routine laboratory work, and other health care services.

Automobile Information

Vehicles are sometimes included in the assets that are divided during divorce. Documents needed include copies of titles; financing agreements; and auto insurance policies for any vehicles in either spouse’s name, including cars, boats, trucks, and trailers.

Life Insurance Policies

Statements for any life insurance policies for either spouse and/or the children are also important. Also needed are statements for loans or cash advances against any life insurance policy.

Child-Related Expenses

The lawyers, mediators, or family court judge needs an accurate picture of child-related costs to calculate alimony and child support. Daycare costs, college tuition, fees for sports and music lessons, and basic living expenses for food and clothing should be documented.

Receipts and Appraisals for Other Tangible Assets

Some assets do not easily fit into other categories, but they still need to be assessed during property division. Documents needed include receipts, appraisals, and any other documentation for jewelry, art, furniture, and electronics of any significant value.

Estate Plan Documents

Copies of wills, powers of attorney, and advance care directives should be brought to the lawyer. When a marriage ends, it is important to review the entire estate plan and remove an ex-spouse as a power of attorney or beneficiary after divorce.

Monthly Budget

Finally, it is always helpful to create a monthly budget including any all expenses involved in caring for the children, maintaining the home, any businesses, and other miscellaneous bills to determine the terms of alimony and child support.

Locating, organizing, and compiling all of this information may seem like a daunting task. And it may take some time. But it is the first step to telling the story of the marriage and helping the divorce lawyers provide the most effective representation possible to achieve a good outcome for their client.

South Jersey Divorce Lawyers at Burnham Douglass Help Clients Prepare for the Divorce Process

If you are contemplating divorce, reach out to the respected New Jersey divorce lawyers at Burnham Douglass. We will help you through the process, including assisting you compile the documents you need. Our goal is to make your divorce go as smoothly as possible. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 856-751-5505 or contact us online. We have offices in Marlton and Northfield, New Jersey, and proudly serve clients in South Jersey, Camden County, Burlington County, Atlantic County, Gloucester County, Salem County and Mercer County.