Gather and organize copies of important documents so information is easily accessible throughout the process.
Birth certificates, Social Security Cards and passports of spouse and children
Marriage certificate and prenuptial agreement
Estate plan documents
Bank, brokerage and retirement account statements
Business financial statements
Monthly bank statements
Life, health and disability insurance policies
Auto, homeowners and renters insurance policies
Tax returns for the past five years
Mortgage or home equity loan documents
Outstanding bills or obligations
Real estate property deeds
Motor Vehicle Titles
Learn your rights. Research how your state addresses issues such as fault in the dissolution of a marriage, property rights and child and spousal support.
Prioritize your safety. If you can’t predict the behavior of your soon-to-be-ex spouse, find a safe place for you and your children to live. Make this a priority.
Assemble important documents. Start with bank statements, tax returns, and any papers related to marital debt, assets and property valuations.
Tally your assets, debts, income and expenses. Review the titling of your accounts to sort out what can be classified as joint or separate property. You’ll also want to know the estimated value of assets, keeping in mind tax consequences when transferring or selling.
Document joint and individually owned assets with video or photos. Make note of the value of these assets and collect receipts if available. Note, too, if the items are owned jointly or separately, and if they’re something you want or would be willing to let your spouse have. If you have a valuable asset or own a lucrative business, hire a valuation expert for an accurate appraisal.
Review benefits. You have a right to information about your spouse’s benefits. Reach out to your spouse’s employer for information on retirement account assets or pension plans. Also, find out if your spouse’s health insurance still covers you. If not, you’ll need to join your employer’s plan or purchase an individual plan.
Even short marriages accumulate quite a bit of joint assets. It’s important to identify those that should be part of a fair and equitable distribution.
- Real Estate
- Vehicles and Boats
- Bank, Retirement and Brokerage
- Pensions and Annuities
- Insurance Policies
- Furniture and Appliances
- Stake in a Business
- Collections (Art, Hobby or Sports