If you've decided that it's time for a divorce, there is some financial information you'll need to gather before filing the paperwork. Having your financial documents in order will provide your attorney with the information they'll need during the settlement talks. Here are five pieces of financial information you should have before you file for divorce.
Tax Returns for the Past Five Years
Before you file for divorce, you should have copies of your tax returns for the past five years. Your tax returns will show how your income has either increased or decreased during your marriage. If you don't know where your tax returns are, you can call the IRS and order transcripts of your previous year's tax returns. Tax transcripts can also prevent your spouse from withholding vital information pertaining to your finances.
Real Estate Tax Forms
If you and your spouse own real property together – such as the family home or an investment property – you'll need to have the tax forms as well. Your real estate tax forms will document how much the property is worth, as well as the current property taxes you pay on each property. This is vital information to have during the settlement negotiations, especially if you plan on dividing your belongings evenly.
Current Debt Obligations
When it comes time to negotiate a settlement, you'll be dividing debts as well as assets. It's important that you have paperwork detailing your current debt obligations. If you and your spouse are planning on dividing and sharing the debt evenly, accurate information will prevent you from ending up with the bulk of the debt.
Life Insurance Paperwork
If you and your spouse have active life insurance policies, you should have that documentation in your file, as well. This is particularly true if your policies have a cash value attached to them. Your attorney may recommend that you cash those policies out and split the money evenly as part of the settlement arrangement.
If your spouse is employed in a profession that includes a retirement package, you may be entitled to a portion of those benefits. Your attorney will need as much information about your spouse's retirement benefits as possible.
Divorce is never easy. However, you need to make sure that your financial future is protected. Before you file for divorce, make sure you have the paperwork your attorney will need to get you the settlement you deserve. If you have any questions, contact a local divorce attorney, such as Craig H. Lane, PC, to discuss your concerns.