Considering a Divorce?  Review this “Divorce Checklist”

on Dec 17, 2017 in Divorce

If you are considering divorce during this holiday season, you are not alone.  While fewer people actually file for divorce in December, divorce filings start to increase in January and continue to increase through March of each year.  If you are considering divorce, take some time to review this divorce checklist.  While it may not include absolutely everything your particular situation calls for, it will give you a good head start on the process.

Divorce Checklist: Gather Documents

In order to make intelligent decisions about dividing assets and debts, your lawyer and your legal team will need to know certain information.  While gathering this information may seem tedious right now, it is essential to a fair and equitable divorce.

Financial Documents

For financial documents, you need, as a starting point:

  • Last three years of federal tax returns;
  • Same for state tax returns;
  • Corresponding W-2 or 1099 statements;
  • Corporate tax returns for any business owned by either or both spouses;
  • Partnership or shareholder agreements related to the business;
  • Receipts for other taxes you have paid over the last three years;
  • Charitable contribution documentation, such as receipts;
  • Income statements or pay stubs;
  • Bank statements for each account; as well as
  • Credit card statements for each card, regardless if the card is in your name, your spouse’s name, or both your names.

Documentation of Monthly Expenses

In order to best understand your situation, the following monthly expenses must be calculated:

  • Food costs;
  • Pet care costs;
  • Memberships, including gym memberships, wine clubs, shopping clubs (such as Costco), etc;
  • Household budget, including
    • Television and cable;
    • Internet;
    • Cell phone and land line bills;
    • Gas and electric;
    • Heat;
    • Water;
    • Garbage;
    • Car loans;
    • Mortgage;
    • Home equity line of credit or second mortgage;
    • Mortgage insurance;
    • Home owner’s insurance;
    • Home owner’s association dues;
    • Private loans;
    • Student loans; and
    • Paperwork associated with any civil lawsuits either spouse is or may become a party to.

If You Have Children. . .

Child related expenses should also be documented, and should include:

  • Tuition;
  • Other costs related to schooling;
  • Afterschool care;
  • Daycare;
  • Costs related to activities, such as music lessons, sports fees, camp, etc.;
  • Out of pocket medical expenses;
  • College savings plans; and
  • Special needs expenses.

Insurance costs

Insurance costs include:

  • Car insurance;
  • Life insurance;
  • Medical insurance;
  • Short term disability insurance;
  • Long term disability insurance;
  • Liability insurance;
  • Renters insurance;
  • Boat insurance;
  • Insurance policies for art;
  • Insurance policies for jewelry; and
  • Any other insurance policies.

Investments and Assets

This list should include everything of value, including but not limited to:

  • Property owned, such as the family home, vacation homes, time shares, investment properties, or vacant land, etc.;
  • Art;
  • Jewelry;
  • Antiques or other collectibles;
  • Firearms;
  • Trust accounts;
  • Itemized statement of items stored in the safety deposit box;
  • Stocks;
  • Bonds;
  • CDs;
  • Mutual funds;
  • Money market funds;
  • Pensions;
  • IRAs;
  • Roth IRAs;
  • Deferred compensation accounts;
  • Annuities;
  • 401(k), 403 (b), SEP, or SIMPLE accounts; and
  • Stock options.

Other Documents

You will also need the following:

  • Birth certificates for you, your spouse, and your children;
  • Copy of marriage certificate;
  • If either of you have a trust, copies of those documents;
  • Premarital agreements;
  • Post marital agreements;
  • Divorce decrees from prior marriages;
  • Separation agreements; and
  • Copies of any wills executed during the marriage.

Make Copies

Make copies of all these essential documents, and store them in a safe place.

Divorce Checklist: Consider Your Privacy

Perhaps you and your soon to be ex are getting along fine.  Even still, consider opening a personal post office box to receive mail, as well as a new, private email account.  This ensures any mail you receive, either in physical form or electronically, comes to you and you alone.

Divorce Checklist: Change Your Passwords

Most divorcing spouses wouldn’t dream of invading their soon to be ex’s space by intruding on social media accounts or reading emails.  That said, some would and do engage in such behavior.  Odds are good if your spouse doesn’t actually know your passwords, he or she can guess pretty reliably.  Consequently, take the time to change your passwords on all your accounts.

Divorce Checklist: Get a Copy of Your Credit Report

There are any number of services that provide free copies of your credit report.  Get a copy from all three credit agencies.  This may help jog your memory about accounts you had otherwise forgotten about.  Additionally, your credit report will give you a snapshot of your credit as it stands today.  If your have concerns your soon to be ex spouse might start charging items on your joint accounts, consider signing up for a credit monitoring service.

Getting your credit report will also inform you about the nature and quality of your current credit score.  You will need credit as a single person.  Review your report for any errors, and work with the appropriate agencies to correct any misstatements.

Divorce Checklist: Change your Medical Directives

If you have a medical directive or living will, take the time to reevaluate your choices.  It is likely you had previously listed your soon to be ex spouse as the decision maker if you become incapacitated.  Unless you want them to continue to make decisions about your care, make sure to change those documents to reflect your new choices.

If You are Considering Divorce

If you are considering divorce, you may feel confused and overwhelmed.  At Fait & DiLima, we focus exclusively on divorce and family law issues.  Often, people considering divorce find comfort in speaking with a divorce attorney about their situation.  An initial consultation gives people the opportunity to gather information and get their questions answered in a peaceful, non-judgmental manner.  Let our experience work for you.  Together, we can discuss your needs and wants associated with your divorce.  We have offices in both Rockville and Frederick to serve you.  Contact us at 201-251-0100 today.