What Documents to File Before Filing a Divorce / by Cassandra Hearn

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The decision to divorce is a difficult one. Any person trying to wrestle with the decision as to whether it is time to make that leap will have a lot to consider. After the decision is made to file for divorce, making the proper preparations can help reduce the amount of chaos and stress surrounding the initial filing process. In addition, making the proper preparations can help you and your lawyer craft the right strategy for your case. One step is to gather and organize the proper documents.

Documents relating to your debts will be important to get together. California is a community property state, which means that all marital assets and marital debts will be divided equally. Accordingly, it is essential to have an accurate picture of what debt actually exists in order to know how to proceed with a potential division or divorce strategy. Credit card statements, medical bills, and personal loan balances are all important to include when you are trying to gather these documents. However, do not overlook secured debt such as your mortgage or any car loans. Even if you are unable to find the most recent statements for these debts, make copies of what you can find. Even older statements will give your lawyer a place to start when trying to get up-to-date information about the balances on these debts.

Documents relating to your assets are just as important to gather. These will include assets ranging from your house to jewelry appraisals to vehicles. Not every asset will have paperwork associated with it, but a bill of sale, appraisal, or deed will help the court to identify whether an asset is a marital asset and subject to division in the divorce. Do not overlook statements for financial accounts, including savings accounts, 401(k)s, or pensions. It is quite likely that these assets are also subject to division in the divorce, either in whole or in part.

Proof of income for you and your soon-to-be former spouse may also be important. Pay stubs and tax returns are the most reliable source of income information, but in cases where you or spouse is self-employed, other documents such as 1099s or business bank account statements could provide a more accurate picture of income. Income is essential when determining either child support or spousal support. Making sure that you have an accurate understanding of income will allow the court to accurately and fairly calculate support.

Deciding to divorce is stressful, but knowing how to properly prepare can reduce the sense of chaos. Contact us today at 619-800-0384 and let us talk to you about how to prepare for your divorce.