Finances are one of the key areas couples facing divorce struggle with; the dissolution of marriage also means the untangling of accounts and a distribution of assets. Who gets what – and who pays who are some of the most commonly asked questions; both are answered in part by a thorough examination of the couple’s finances, assets, and financial situation.
Part of preparing for your visit to the divorce attorney’s office is gathering documentation and information about your income, finances, and even expenditures. Gather these documents before your appointment, and you’ll have everything you need to give your attorney the details she needs to help you with your case.
What Financial Documents Should You Bring to a Divorce Consultation?
Your attorney needs an idea of the amount of money that is arriving each month and an understanding of how much is leaving your household for essentials like food, shelter, transportation, and childcare.
Your bank statements show how much money you have available, what your typical expenses are, and can provide some insight into your overall financial situation. Bring your most recent statements for both checking and savings if you have joint accounts – or at least your own if you have separate ones. Your bills need to come along for a visit as well.
Bring the last few paystubs from your own and your soon to be ex-spouse’s jobs. These papers show how much you earn, how much you keep, and who is providing which services for the family. Health insurance, life insurance, and similar deductions reduce your paycheck but are essential if you have children. Your divorce attorney can use your paystubs to help determine a fair settlement and division for you.
Even better than individual pay stubs are your annual tax returns. Whether you filed jointly or not, bring the last few for each of you. If anyone owns a business, investments or other items, the tax returns will help give an accurate overview of your total financial picture.
You may not have anything to share, but if you do have a prenuptial agreement or other important papers that impact your marriage and divorce, you should bring them. If you or your soon to be ex-spouse are being sued, are in foreclosure, or are in the middle of inheriting a pile of cash and assets, these papers need to come to the attorney’s office with you.
Retirement and Investment Accounts
The accounts you hold separately and together need to make an appearance as well, from retirement savings to college savings (if you have a 529 plan, you are likely the owner, not your child).
Having all this information can help your attorney provide you with the best possible advice and ensure you have covered any aspect that could arise. While you may need additional documentation, locating and bringing these items to your consultation is an excellent start.