Filing for divorce can be a chaotic and emotional time. In this period, valuable information could be glossed over, and key financial details can be missed. To ensure control over the divorce proceedings, you will want to collect all your financial documents and send them to an experienced financial advisor before you file. Before we tell you the financial documents you will need for your divorce proceedings, there are some general rules for collecting information:
- Documents should span 3 years back at minimum, 5 years preferred.
- It is better to have more documents and decide their importance later.
- Collect documents for your finances, your spouse’s finances, and your joint finances.
Now that you know some tips for collecting documents, let’s talk about what you need to look for. You will have to collect three types of financial documents: assets, debts, and expenses. We will go over each one and give you a list of documents you will need from that category.
This category includes everything that is owned, in the process of owning or earned. Here you will need to make a list of your property and belongings, include documents that make mention of these items. The assets category includes:
- Money: Cash, bank accounts, income, disability and public assistance, retirement accounts, pensions, and other financial accounts with liquid currency.
- Investments: Business assets and income, stocks, bonds, Certificate of Deposits
- Property: Security deposit for rental, home appraisals, land appraisals, investment property income and appraisal.
- Belongings: Vehicle appraisals and titles, patents, jewelry, furniture, antiques
- Insurance: Value of life insurance plans and other forms of insurance for property, vehicles, and personal belongings.
- Additional: Any other asset you or your spouse own, including inheritances
If you have children with assets under their name, include those documents and details as well.
A debt is the amount of money you need to repay a lender for money that was borrowed. During a divorce, you may be determined responsible for some debts, while others become the joint responsibility of you and your separated spouse. Due to the complicated nature of debt, all documents related to debt should be included in the information you provide your financial advisor. Including the following:
- Property: Mortgages, second mortgages, lines od credit for your home, property liens, and rent obligations
- Tax: Tax debt and liens.
- Educational: Student loans for college, grad school and extended forms of education.
- Personal: Personal loans taken out for any reason.
- Lines of Credit: Credit cards and any other line of credit or installment payments (this can include stores that allow you to pay in installments like Amazon)
- Other Debt: Any other form of debt that you or your spouse acquired during the marriage. This can include informal forms of debt for gambling, a friend, a business or other non-contract deal.
Finally, put together all your monthly costs. This category is what you will have to save actual receipts to determine. Try to be exact as possible, but when that can’t be done use the past 12 months to create an average monthly cost. Make sure to note if the expense is exact or estimated. This will help in preparing for the divorce and for creating a budget for your future. The category should include:
- Housing: Rent or mortgage, home repair and maintenance, cleaning costs and supplies
- Taxes: Property and income
- Insurance: Homeowners, Life, Auto, medical (include amount not covered by insurance)
- Child Care: Daycare, sitters, extracurricular activities and other costs
- Utilities: Gas, electric, water, trash, internet and more
- Entertainment: Gifts, vacations, tv, and more
- Transportation: Car, gas, repairs, bus, train, airplane or other
- Cell Phone: Phone (if not paid off), cellular service and hotspot
- Clothes: Clothing and laundry
- Other Expenses: Any other installment payments, charitable contributions, or monthly costs
What to Do After You Get It All Together:
Once you have managed to pull together all the necessary documents, get in contact with a financial advisor. A financial advisor can go through all the papers you collected and create findings that will help in the divorce proceedings. They can walk you through the financial side of the divorce and help you create a plan. By compiling all the documents, you will jumpstart the process of working with a financial advisor and allow for a more efficient and effective process which can yield a substantially better end result.
Councilor, Buchanan & Mitchell (CBM) is a professional services firm delivering tax, accounting and business advisory expertise throughout the Mid-Atlantic region from offices in Bethesda, MD and Washington, DC.