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Tips on Preparing for Divorce: Beginning Stage

Whether you are deciding to file for divorce or you have been served with divorce papers, this will be a very stressful period of time. One of the most important thing you can do is prepare. You will need to prepare both emotionally and procedurally, especially during the initial stages. Preparing will make things easier for you (and your attorney should you hire one) and let you feel like you have some control.

During the initial stages you will want to begin gathering all kinds of paperwork, both for yourself and for your attorney. This will make sure you have current documents and are aware of what debts and assets are part of the marital estate. You will want to gather the most recent documents, as in Indiana the date a divorce is filed with the Court is the date the lid closes on the marital pot. This typically means that anything you acquire after after the divorce papers are filed with the court, whether assets or debts, is yours without claim from your spouse. Begin gathering the following documents (do not forget you can obtain most of these online directly through the provider):

  • 2 years of Federal and State Income Tax Returns with all attachments, schedules, W-2s, 1099s;

  • Your's and your spouses' last 5 pay-stubs and/or proof of all weekly income;

  • 401(k), 403(b), IRA, PERF, Pension, TSP and all other retirement accounts in your name and your spouse's name;

  • Life insurance policies whether whole life or term.

  • 4 months of all bank accounts in your name, your spouse's name, your children's name (if minors), and all other accounts you or your spouse access and use;

  • All documents related to any business owned, operated, and you or your spouse have any interest in (these documents should include 2 years of business Federal tax returns, Profit and Loss statements, operating agreements, Quickbook print-outs, etc);

  • Most recent statement for all debt in your individual name your spouse's individual name, and the debts you hold joint with your spouse; whether the debt was brought into the marriage or incurred during the marriage. Debt are student loans, credit cards, utility statements, monthly bills, loans, line of credit, medical bills, mortgage statements, etc);

  • Insurance and/or appraisal documents for any assets;

  • Create a list of all assets you and your spouse have, no matter whose name it is in or if it was brought into the marriage (list each item, its garage sale value, date it was acquired, who possesses the asset);

  • Create a list of all vehicles, boats, RVs, 4-wheelers, motorcycles, electric vehicles/bikes/toys and include their make, model, year, and condition (i.e. fair, good, great. You can get approximate values of each vehicle by using Blue Book online);

  • Health insurance premiums (i.e. document showing cost of employee only and employee + family or employee + children);

  • Proof of daycare costs, if applicable;

  • Proof of schooling/tuition costs for children of the marriage, if applicable;

  • Proof of extracurricular costs for children of the marriage, if applicable;

  • Proof of any college funds for children of the marriage, if applicable

This information is also required for a financial declaration, which is a document most county courts require to be filed during the beginning of divorce cases. Some counties have their own form, however here is a form our office has created, with an area for lists, to help you document the above information.

Gathering the above documents and information will greatly prepare and educate you as to what the Court will look at and consider when dividing the marital debts and assets. It will also help the Court when deciding at a preliminary hearing whether you or your spouse will need financial assistance during the initial stages of the case, such as assisting with paying the mortgage/rent, children's daycare, schooling, and certain bills.

During the beginning stages of a divorce things move very quickly and can become overwhelming. Your attorney or the opposing side may ask a lot from you, including the above information. Instead of worrying about having to find it or obtain access to it, go ahead and make sure you are prepared. Even having this information handy whether or not you're getting a divorce is a good idea. You should always be aware of your financial situation, don't rely on your spouse to take care of it all.

Next week we will discuss what takes place after a divorce has been filed and the preliminary hearing. If there is anything you would like for us to address further as to the beginning stage, have questions about the documents, or want to know about in the next post, comment below!


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