How to Fact Gather for a Divorce?

Be prepared to share all information about yourself and marriage situation. The more you document and prepare the easier it will be to gain clarity, direction and understand your options.

Gathering Information

To prevent any loss of property, begin taking inventory of everything that is owned between you and your spouse, and all debt. Gather all financial information[1] as to everything you own or owe together, and individually. Providing this documentation in court will help to cut down speculation, and possible denial of financial responsibility on either side. It is very important during a divorce proceeding to verify and substantiate any and all claims.

It is also crucial to list all debt that you believe belongs solely to your spouse, and to provide all necessary documentation in order to verify and validate your claims, to prevent any confusion or future legal troubles resulting from unpaid or unsatisfied debt.

It is also wise to include all assets that you owned before you were married in order to prevent them from being divided upon the divorce. Items to be included in your financial asset inventory also include:

  • Checking, Savings, Medical, and Money Market Accounts (including stocks, mutual funds, bonds and certificates of deposits)
  • Real estate (including vacation homes)
  • 401(k)s, IRAs, SEP IRAs and Profit Sharing (including any deferred compensation packages)
  • Vehicles, Cars, Recreation Vehicles, Boats, etc.
  • Personal Property (such as jewelry or other valuables, including household furniture)
  • Expected Tax Refunds (if any)

We can assist you through this process, and provide a detailed list of items to include in your financial inventory.
Some of the financial debt inventory should include:

  • Open Home Equity Credit Lines
  • Mortgages
  • Loans (Vehicle, Student, or otherwise)
  • Credit Card Debt
  • Any joint or individual obligations to pay money owed

Documents to Locate & Prepare

1. Tax Returns
Get copies of your state and federal income-tax returns for the last three years. This includes, all schedules, K-1 forms, W-2 forms, and 1099s.

2. Net Worth Statements
Obtain copies of net-worth statements you filed in the last five years to secure a loan or line of credit. If you can not locate these documents the institution you submitted these statements can provide you a copy.

3. Retirement Plans
If you participate in profit-sharing, pension, or a retirement plan contact the bookkeeper or plan administrator requesting a copy of the summary plan description, a statement of your current interest in the plan, and its value.

4. Retirement Accounts
If you or your spouse owns any IRAs, document the name of the financial institution, the account number, the beneficiary, and request a statement indicating the account balance.

5. Real Estate–Legal Description
If you or your spouse has interest in any real estate, secure a copy of the legal description for each parcel. You can find the full legal description in the deed, mortgage, title-insurance policy, or abstract of title. In addition, if you have a mortgage, request from your financial institution copies of the mortgage, the mortgage amortization schedule, and the mortgage note.

6. Real Estate Tax Bill
Make a photocopy of the last paid tax bill for each piece of real estate owned either jointly or solely.

7. Real Estate Appraisal
If your property was appraised for any reason within the last three years create a copy of the appraisal.

8. Life Insurance Policy
Make a copy of any life-insurance policy including the policy face sheet with the name and address of the insurance company, the face amount of the policy, policy number, owner of the policy, beneficiary, annual premium, and terms and conditions.

9. Medical Insurance Policy
Create a copy of the company name, policy/group number, and subscriber number. This should be for health, dental, and any other medical insurance policies.

10. Other Insurance Policies
Photocopy all insurance policies presently maintained. This includes, but is not limited to, homeowner's, automobile, and personal-property policies and any schedules or riders.

11. Bank Accounts
Photocopies of current bank statements indicating the balance.

12. Loans and Liabilities
Copies of current balance for all loans you or your spouse are liable. This includes copies of current credit card statements.

13. Securities
Secure a copy of any securities, with a list of stocks, stock options, bonds, commodity accounts, notes, money-market accounts, or mutual funds. Copies should include the date of purchase, the purchase price, and the current owner.

14. Business Interests
If you or your spouse has an interest in any business, obtain copies of the tax returns, distribution schedules, balance sheets, and profit/loss statements for the last five years. This information may be difficult to obtain, gather as much as possible.

15. Estate or Trust Interests
If you or your spouse was ever gifted or inherited any property or a there is a future interest in any estate secure a copy of the gift-tax returns, will, inventory, final account, and judgment effecting such interest.

16. Previous Marriages
If either party was married and divorced, secure copies of the judgment.


References: [1]Divorce Checklist


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