How to Prepare for Separation and Divorce
We know this process seems overwhelming; just take it one step at a time. Here are the first few steps to be taken in advance of separation.
1. Gather documents that will be needed to determine family expenses:
- 5 years of tax returns;
- 3 years of bank statements, including check registers or cancelled checks;
- 3 years of credit card statements;
- Recent credit report;
- Current balances on all outstanding debt;
- Current pay stubs.
2. Gather documents that will be needed to determine the distribution of your property:
- Date of separation and current statements for any bank, brokerage, investment or other financial accounts;
- Date of separation and current statement for any retirement accounts, as well as a statement from the date of marriage if the retirement account existed before the date of marriage;
- Appraisals for any real or personal property;
- A copy of any homeowner’s policy showing insurable value on the contents of any residence;
- If one of the spouses owns a business, 5 years of corporate tax returns, balance sheets, profit and loss statements, and shareholder agreements; and Copies of all insurance policies.
3. Make an inventory of the marital property. This includes:
- All financial accounts in both parties’ names including account numbers and financial institutions;
- All retirement accounts including account numbers;
- All insurance policies on life, health, disability, real and personal property including premiums and coverage, and
- A Photograph or videotape of the marital home and contents, as well, any secondary home and the contents.
4. In addition, if you suspect that your spouse has had or is having an affair, collect documentation that may evidence the affair. This includes:
- Detailed cell phone records. If the phone bill is not detailed, contact the provider and request detailed billing;
- Emails, if they can be obtained from a family computer that is used by both spouses that does not contain a password. Do not use computer spyware to intercept email messages; this is illegal;
- Investigation from a private detective; Journals, diaries, daily planners, and Credit card statements.