When you decided to marry your spouse, you probably thought more about love and commitment than you did building financial wealth. Still, if your marriage is coming to an end, you want to receive your fair share of community property. You may also want to pursue spousal support.
Dividing marital assets is not necessarily as simple as it sounds. Still, it is hard to argue with black-and-white financial data. To better prepare yourself for an acceptable outcome, you should gather some relevant financial documents before you begin divorce proceedings. Here are seven essential records you should try to find.
1. Bank statements
Bank statements shed considerable light on marital assets. They may also indicate whether your partner is attempting to hide assets from you. Either way, pulling together bank statements for your family’s checking, savings and other accounts usually makes sense.
2. Pay stubs
You and your spouse both may have a source of income. Whether you plan to seek spousal support, you need a record of how much each of you earns. Therefore, when planning for the dissolution of your marriage, you should try to collect pay stubs and documentation about other income.
3. Loan documents
Divorcing does not only require dividing marital assets. You also must address outstanding loans, including credit card balances. Therefore, assemble as much information as possible about any loans you and your partner have.
4. Mortgages and rental agreements
If you and your future ex-spouse own a home together, you should obtain information about your mortgage. Even if you do not own real estate, you may have an interest in the place you rent. Either way, you should collect documentation about your primary residence, vacation homes, timeshares and other pieces of real property.
5. Retirement account statements
Planning for retirement is a wise choice. After all, you likely do not want to work forever. Still, dividing 401(k)s, pensions and other retirement accounts is often necessary during a divorce.
6. Business records
If either you or your partner owns a business or has an interest in one, you should find as much documentation as possible about the company and its ownership.
7. Insurance policies
Finally, you must pull together information about health, life and other types of insurance. Following your divorce, you may need to rework your health insurance coverage. Alternatively, your life insurance may have a cash value that you and your partner must address.
You may find yourself experiencing a variety of emotions before and during your divorce. If keeping busy helps you manage your feelings, you may want to work on gathering essential financial documents. Even if it does not, collecting necessary information is worth your time.