Divorce FinanceFinancials are one of the most hotly contested parts of a divorce. Financial issues are often a big part of why a marriage fails so this should come as no surprise.

You can get a jump on the stressful process of unraveling your financial picture by gathering the following financials in advance of starting your divorce or right when you get started. You will have to provide this information in most courts when you seek child support, spousal support, payment of attorney fees, children’s expenses, or basically any time you or the other party needs financial relief. You also cannot get started on figuring out what will be divided without some documents to work from. Create a folder that is well organized that you can save these documents to and share with your attorney, so you are ready to get started.

You should at a minimum gather:

  • Pay stubs for the past six months. If you do not receive pay stubs, gather any other documents that show your income source, whether it is unemployment or any other source
  • Two years of complete personal tax returns, including all schedules and W-2s
  • Business tax returns if either party owns an interest of 5% or more in a corporation, partnership, or other entity that generates its own tax return. You will need to provide the complete tax return for each corporation, partnership, or other entity for the prior two years.
  • Six months of any and all statements related to accounts in financial institutions that you have or had an interest in. You should note that “financial institutions” include banks, credit unions, mutual fund companies, brokerages, retirement accounts, cryptocurrency, mortgage statements, car loan statements, and credit card statements.
  • 2 years of proof of any non-taxable income or benefits (for example, from a trust, barter, gift, etc.), including receipts, the source, and any deductions. This is somewhat uncommon for most people.

As you start gathering financials, do NOT hide accounts! Even if you think the other party does not know about an account, do not hold it back. As you delve into your case, all financials will need to be disclosed and the penalty for hiding assets is huge and can destroy your credibility in the case. Your assets will be found so just gather the documents and tell your attorney any concerns you have about them.

It is wise to start working on a budget. You can start simply by just making a list of what you spend on everything each month. You may need to do some research and look at your bills. You will need to know what you pay for housing, utilities, your cell phone, internet, personal items, childcare, car payment, healthcare, and a variety of other things.

Get these basics down on paper, check your statements, and figure out what your budget looks like. Some people know this to the dime and others have no idea. You will need to know for your case, so starting this early will help you and your attorney.

Taking the steps of gathering basic financials and making a budget will put you ahead of the game as you approach your divorce and save on time and costs with your attorney.