The extreme lifestyle change prompted by stay-at-home orders during the COVID-19 pandemic have pushed families closer together for longer periods of time leading some to question if the person they married is their life-partner. The emotional and financial stresses are leading to what appears to be an uptick in the number of people across the country that are considering filing for divorce.
Often one of the most challenging parts of preparing to file for dissolution of the marriage is the time-consuming work of gathering the needed records. The quarantine can provide both the time and the opportunity to help gather the information. It is important to get a clear picture of the family’s finances. Gathering documents that provide proof of income and current debts will help ensure an accurate accounting of the finances and allow you and your representative to look at all aspects of your case. It is also important to be able to access relevant legal documents. Below are important documents that should be gathered and copied.
Proof of Income
- 3 Years of tax returns
- 6 Months of pay stubs
- If self-employed (one year of bank statements, a financial statement and/or a profit and loss statement)
- Stock account statements
- Pension plan statements including 401(k) and/or IRA accounts
- Mortgage Loan information
- List of personal property you own - vehicles, artwork, boats, real estate
- Vehicle titles
- 12 months of bank statements
- Take pictures of the contents of each room in the house
- 6 months credit card statements
- 6 months mortgage statements
- Real estate tax bill
- Marriage license
- Prenuptial agreement
- Will or Estate Planning documents
- Children’s passports and social security cards
- Open accounts in your name
Once the documents are gathered, it is helpful to estimate what the cost of living expenses would be if the divorce moves forward. It is very helpful to have a realistic budget for a divorce attorney and the litigation before the search for an attorney begins.
The extra time at home can also provide the opportunity to research and do phone interviews with family law attorneys. Narrowing the search to Certified Family Law Specialists with 5 to 10 years experience will help ensure a skilled family law attorney is on the case. The process of gathering the documents and doing some research can also be a helpful step in deciding if a divorce is the best option.