Save time, money, and stress by getting your divorce papers, documentation, and possessions prepared early

Going through a divorce is a hectic and emotionally trying time. Finding, organizing, and prioritizing various divorce papers is probably not at the top of your personal to-do list while you’re dealing with the emotional and financial fallout of a formal separation.

However, legal proceedings hinge on evidence, and paperwork serve as exactly that. Being prepared with the proper documents can save you additional time and stress in the long run. Educate yourself on what you need to keep on hand during and after the divorce.

Being prepared

Correct documentation and organization can be significant for the outcome of your divorce. This is one area in which being over prepared is necessary.

Organize early

Try to get everything together before you’re asked and keep it in a convenient location so that you can access it immediately. Have a designated place for all potentially relevant documents to reduce anxiety or last-minute searches. Buy a filing box and some folders or dividers for easy identification and access.

Start the process off smoothly by having this finished before you initiate the filing process—this is particularly important if you’re the one who will be leaving the home. Filling formal discovery requests for information you can’t find will take time and money. In addition, there is always a chance that evidence cannot be found the longer you go without locating it.

Know what’s necessary

Your attorney will have a specific list of documents you need, but there are some documents you should have access to no matter what. To get ahead, make copies and find a safe place to store these items and documents. A good starting point of necessary divorce documents includes:

  • Recent pay stubs
  • Bank statements
  • Financial statements for businesses
  • Tax returns
  • Mortgage documents
  • Jewelry and real estate appraisals
  • Stock or investment portfolios
  • Credit card statements
  • Retirement account information
  • Social security cards
  • Marriage certificate
  • Birth certificates
  • Life, health, home, and auto insurance policies
  • Loan statements

Create a personal inventory

Division of assets can quickly become contentious. Without proper proof, it can also become a game of he said/she said once items are missing from the home. Do not rely on financial disclosures submitted by your ex. Help mitigate the potential damage of dishonesty by creating a detailed inventory of your household possessions.

Make a spreadsheet of items of value (including make, model, and serial numbers, when applicable). Collect any receipts or appraisals, go through the home, cabinets, and garage, and take dated photos and/or video of everything inside. Hopefully, this step ends up unnecessary, but you’ll be glad you have it if there is a property-related dispute.

Once the dust settles

Once you’ve finalized your divorce, it’s time to breathe a sigh of relief after maneuvering through that complicated process. But now you’ve got new documents to track. Create a new category in your filing box and keep the following:

Divorce decree: Make sure you have at least one copy that has the official court seal on it. Your divorce papers details how future issues are to be handled, so keeping it on hand is important. It’s also essential to the process of changing your name, if that’s a step you’re taking.

Appraisals: Experts may have assessed the value of real estate, jewelry, businesses, or other assets such as retirement accounts during the proceedings. Keep this information in case you need to reference it in the future.

Financial records: A lot of financial information such as bank statements, canceled checks, tax returns, and credit card statements will be necessary during the divorce process. Keep in mind, you will need this information again when it’s time to file your taxes. However, you may also need to provide it if your ex-spouse tries to change the amount of child support and you need to substantiate how the original number was determined by the courts.

Even the low conflict divorces can quickly become complicated, and it is important to prepare for the worst. Create an inventory of personal possessions and make back-up copies of important documentation to give you the inner peace that comes with being prepared. Start the upcoming chapter of your life knowing that you’re ready for anything. Family Plan is committed to empowering parents after divorce or separation by helping with organization, communication, and simplifying payments to reduce stress and potential conflict. Download our app to get started.