Ending a marriage isn’t usually a pleasant thing to contemplate, but it’s critical to be properly prepared. Top divorce lawyers in Chester County, PA advise clients to collect certain information and important documents to help make the process more expedient and less stressful.
Being methodical and organized when gathering information is vital. There are many different issues to consider, and following this checklist can help you make quick work of them. The more information you have in writing, the better.
The first items you’ll want to gather are marriage documents such as:
Marriage license – Find your marriage license and put it in a safe place. If you’re unable to locate it, request an official copy from the jurisdiction in which you were married.
Agreements – Collect any pre-or post-nuptial agreements and estate planning documents such as wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and advance directives. If you can’t find these documents, contact your estate planning attorney to request copies.
Life insurance policies – If you and/or your spouse have any life insurance policies, gather them and put them in your file.
Money is often a point of contention, so it’s important to gather as much financial documentation as possible before you file for divorce. Some important items include:
Income-related documents such as both spouses’ paystubs from the past year, W-2s, and several years of individual and joint tax returns. If you or your spouse is self-employed, include bank statements, paid invoices, canceled checks, financial statements, profit and loss statements, and any other relevant documentation regarding income.
Financial account information should include checking and savings accounts, investment accounts, retirement accounts, bank statements, savings certificates, CDs, security deposit boxes, and any other financial documentation. To ensure marital property is properly divided, all accounts and assets must be disclosed, whether they are held jointly or separately.
Real estate documents like mortgage statements, proof of mortgage payments, refinancing documents, home equity loan information, deeds, real estate purchase documents, and property tax assessments and payments can be useful when it comes to the division of marital property.
Documentation of other property you and your spouse own individually and jointly is also critical. Gather vehicle titles, registration, and proof of any outstanding debt on the vehicles. Make a list of other assets such as jewelry, household items, furniture, intellectual property, collectibles, and any other valuable items. Include their valuation if possible. If you received any inheritance individually, make sure to include evidence of that as well.
Proof of individual and marital debt such as credit cards, loans, and medical bills can help to ensure, that division of property and debt is fair. Download a copy of your credit report and put it in your file
Think About Custody Arrangements
If you have children, it’s important to consider how your divorce will affect them and to come up with a plan that keeps their best interests in mind. Talk to a child custody attorney about creating a proposed custody plan that includes information about regular custody schedules, vacations, holidays, and important issues such as education, religion and health care. Your lawyer can also help you understand how child support works in your state.
Being prepared for divorce can be daunting, but you don’t have to go it alone. Our affordable divorce attorneys have your back every step of the way. If you need assistance with creating a new will, our top probate lawyers at Perna & Abracht, LLC can assist you with an estate plan as well.