So it has finally come to this: you are ready to proceed with a divorce. This realization is often followed by uncertainty about what sort of information you might need in preparation. Whether your divorce is a mutual decision between your spouse and yourself or one which is yours and yours alone – an array of basic information is necessary.
When pursuing a divorce two issues will confront you financially speaking: property division and spousal or child support. Property division concerns tangible personal property (e.g. chairs, tables, artwork and garden gnomes) and less tangible assets (e.g. financial accounts). These can be in the form of a variety of funds, pensions and accounts. For your attorney to properly and competently advise you on the issue of property, bring a list of your tangible personal property. A good way to prepare this is to simply go through your house, apartment or storage unit and make an inventory. Additionally, information on larger pieces of property (e.g. your home, cars or boats) is also important. If you have documentation on the value of these items (e.g. a recent appraisal) that is also helpful to your attorney. If there are any liens on these items (e.g. a mortgage) bring recent statements regarding the lien with you to your initial consultation. With regard to your intangible personal property, your most recent statements for your accounts (checking, savings, investment, mutual fund, retirement, etc.)also adds great value to the initial consultation. A good approach to preparing for the initial interview on the issue of assets would be to list all the assets, enumerate the value of each (to the extent it is known), list any debt associated with each, and have the backup documentation to support the numbers you assert with regard to the values and the debts associated with the assets.
Understanding Child Support & Marital Support or Alimony
With regard to support there are two kinds: child support and alimony. For both kinds of support, information about your current income is key. Your most recent pay stubs and tax returns are a good resource upon which your attorney can rely to give you initial advice regarding support. However, you will also need information concerning your expenses and debts. To determine your expenses, look at the last twelve months of your bank and credit card statements. In doing so try to determine what your average costs are for day to day items like food, clothing, drug store items and restaurant expenses. If support is an issue in your case, your attorney will most likely have you complete a financial statement whereby you will need to make an assertion of all these expenses. You will also need to determine all your debts: mortgage, credit card debt, car loans, loans from family and friends etc. Again, having supporting documentation for these figures will help you immensely, will allow you to get ahead of the game if the case goes to litigation which in turn will hopefully make a difficult experience a little easier.
The financial considerations in divorce are always time consuming yet they are also amongst the most important. Anything that provides clarity for your attorney will only benefit you. Furthermore, if you expect your spouse may be hiding assets prior to the divorce, then it is even more important to document things like assets, accounts, and expenses (for more information on hidden assets, read this article.) You are the primary source of information for your attorney so some organization of information can go a long way in helping arrive at the best outcome in your divorce.