How To Prepare A Divorce Checklist And What To Add

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A divorce checklist is a list of documents and information to be collected and organized to make the divorce less stressful and also save time. The list includes personal papers, financial records, and the paperwork needed to begin the legal proceedings. You may also make better decisions based on the information on the checklist. Read on to know more about the checklist for divorce to simplify the procedure.

Divorce Mediation Checklist

Divorce mediation is a settlement process used by married couples looking for divorce or separation. It happens with mutual understanding and cooperation, with a divorce mediator’s help to make the procedure no-fault. The couple has to submit their documents before beginning the procedure.

Marital documents

  • Marriage certificate copies
  • Trust certificate copies
  • Marital agreement (pre or post) copies
  • Wills made during the marriage

Assets and liability documents

  • Personal information (name, contact address and number, date of marriage, employment details)
  • Information of children (name, date of birth, education, medical concerns)
  • Bank balance statements for all accounts, individual and joint, for the last three years
  • Asset-related statements including loans, vehicles, property, investments, business ownerships, savings, CD accounts, and anything in the name of any of the spouses
  • Liabilities-related statements including student loan, vehicle loan, credit card, real estate loans, debts, mortgages, or other liabilities in the name of any of the spouses

Income and tax-related documents

  • Income statements for the past six months of both the spouses or pay stubs
  • State and Federal tax returns for the last three years (and Notice of Assessments)
  • In the case of business, corporate tax statements for the last three years (income statements, invoices)
  • Insurance policy statements of either or both the spouses

Divorce Preparation Checklist/Personal Information Checklist For Divorce

Based on the complexity and nature of divorce, the information or documentation could vary. Here is the basic checklist of documents that you need to have when applying for the divorce. The following information or proofs of both the spouses has to be submitted.

  • Personal information, including name, date of birth, contact address, social security number, and contact numbers
  • State residency proof
  • Employer related information
  • Employment information and statement of salary
  • Place to serve the divorce proceedings
  • Documents related to previous marriage (either or both the spouses)
  • Information related to custody arrangements
  • Information on the children (from previous and current marriage), including name, date of birth, social security number, and other related information.
  • In case a child is getting support, then details regarding the same
  • Health insurance details of children
  • Nuptial agreements (pre and post)
  • Documents of separation
  • Documents of court orders related to visitation, custody, maintenance, restraining order, or anything
  • Proof of expenses (of children and both the spouses)
  • Domestic partnership certificate, if any

Divorce Financial Checklist

Irrespective of the type of divorce, both the spouses have to submit their financial documents when applying for the legal proceedings. The most important documents you need to keep ready include:

Income and tax documents

  • Income tax returns including personal, partnership, joint venture along with state, local, and federal income statements. The documents should include K-1, 1099, W-2 forms of the past five years.
  • Partnership and corporate tax return statements for the last five years
  • Last three months or last financial year statement of both the spouses. The statement should have details related to payroll, including equity incentives, stock options, ESPPs, bonuses, and other income proof of the past five years.
  • Financial statements of both the spouses individually and jointly (if prepared for savings or business entity). Better to have recent to last five years documentation.
  • Employment documents, it could be an offer letter or employment contract
  • Employment benefit summary documentation
  • In case of self-employment, you require a profit and loss statement or financial statement of the last five years, credit or loan application submitted in the last five years, buy or sell agreement related to business, appraisal, and tax returns of the last five years.

Assets and liabilities documents

  • Statements of saving accounts, joint accounts, deposit accounts, and credit accounts
  • Bank statements of accounts in the name of children
  • Safety box or cash in hand has to be noted
  • Life insurance policies with details of the amount insured, name, beneficiary name, date, loan, or cash value. The proof should be submitted. The same goes for disability policies and auto insurance policies.
  • Pension and retirement account statement that mentions the calculation of pension monthly or yearly.
  • Copies of all bonds, secured notes, mutual funds, investments, stocks, liquid and non-liquid investment details.
  • Statements of unsecured notes, accounts receivable, annuities, IRAs, profit sharing, and deferred compensation.
  • All the relevant documentation with respect to businesses and partnerships, including statements or information about the assets and debts.
  • Stock purchase statements including ESPP and ESOP
  • Agreements related to the stock options along with details of all employer stock plans
  • Intellectual property proof related to trademark, patent, royalty, copyright, or similar
  • Statement regarding the early retirement along with the benefits
  • Education or student loan details including balance, interest, schedule of payment, and period of the loan
  • Statement of unsecured loans with details of bank or institution name and loan number
  • Credit card details, credit report, and information related to other debts

Other documents

  • Powers of Attorney
  • Will documents
  • Healthcare directives
  • Certification of Trust
  • Statement of Grant Deed
  • Market value opinions or appraisals related to real property in the last two years
  • Lines of credit or mortgages with details including name, account number, balance, address, and monthly payment
  • Statement of final Escrow, including down payment, price, closing fees, and other details.
  • Information on the rental property along with details of improvements and depreciation
  • Proof of exchange or sale of the residence
  • Details of vacation and rental property

Post-Divorce Checklist

Even after your divorce has ended, there are certain things that you should take into account. Taking care of it will pave the way for your future. Here is the checklist that will help you post the divorce.

  • Set reminders related to alimony
  • Close joint accounts and create new accounts, same goes with credit cards
  • Update your trust or will
  • Create new power of attorney
  • Update all the insurance coverages, be it life insurance, home, or automobile
  • Change the name of beneficiaries in accounts, deeds, and policies
  • Create monetary reserve for emergency
  • Keep a track on the credit score
  • Set up a new filing system
  • Contact your accountant to discuss and plan the investments and taxes

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What should a wife ask for in a divorce?

When a woman has to go through a divorce process, she should consider many things, including (but not limited to) the daily expenses, child-care expenses, joint investments, retirement plans, medical and other insurance. In addition, the laws for the divorce settlement criterion vary among states. However, you may discuss with your lawyer the alimony and other financial aspects you may claim when contemplating a divorce.

2. What not to do before I get divorced?

Divorce could be a time-consuming and physically and emotionally draining process. But it is important to be composed and balanced. Refrain from doing certain things such as procrastinating the process for a holiday season, venting out your stress on your children or family, thinking about a collaborative divorce or divorce mediation, and spending too much money on the process.

A divorce requires detailed paperwork, so keeping everything in order can make the legal process more organized and fast. Often, couples hire a mediator who helps them sort out the paperwork if the divorce happens with cooperation and understanding. The documents required include marriage certificate copies, bank balance statements, income tax statements, and state residency proofs. Sometimes, the paperwork depends on the type of divorce a couple is undergoing. Nevertheless, it is important to get everything done in time for a smooth divorce procedure.

Key Pointers

  • Preparing a divorce checklist can help make the process easier and hassle-free.
  • Income tax returns, employment information, and personal information documents must be produced.
  • Bank statements, custody information, and other required documents are listed below.

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Shikha Thakur

Shikha is a writer-turned-associate editor at MomJunction. Having done a certification in Relationship Coaching, her core interest lies in writing articles that guide couples through their courtship to marriage and parenthood. She also specializes in baby names. Being a postgraduate in Human Resources from Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, she likes understanding people and their relationships. This reflects in her relationship... more

Trish Guise

Trish is a divorce and pre-mediation coach with certification in New Ways for Families. She primarily deals with clients’ post-separation abuse, coercive control, and high conflict ex-spouses. Having experienced her high-conflict divorce, Trish helps clients with her personal experience coupled with a professional qualification. She is an associate with Supporting Wellness Psychological and Family Services and a Canadian Ambassador for... more