A divorce case may seem like a swamp of painful emotions, an unhappy mix of sorrow, regret, guilt, relief and pain. But many highly contested divorce issues -- like family support and property division -- are resolved largely by use of mathematical formulas. To prepare for a divorce case, you need documents that establish solid numbers for the income, assets and debts of both you and your spouse, as well as copies of any prenuptial agreements or restraining orders.
Documents in Divorce Proceedings
Accusations and allegations are a dime a dozen in contested divorce cases, but many bitterly fought issues are ultimately determined by impartial number crunching. One of the purposes of a divorce proceeding is to pin down the relevant numbers by requiring each spouse to produce accurate and complete financial records through a legal process called discovery. Without documentary evidence to support your income and property claims, you are unlikely to obtain the result you hope for.
Awards of child support and spousal support depend, in most states, on a comparison of the incomes of both spouses. You'll need to provide state and federal tax returns -- yours and his, if you filed separately -- for the past three years, according to Missouri divorce attorney Mark Wortman, as well as payroll stubs and employment contracts to prove income since your last tax filing. Also, bring in documents that show any additional income, like business tax returns if one of you has a business interest, and statements showing retirement, disability or other unearned income.
Real and Personal Property Information
The list of possible documents that prove the assets you own and debts you owe is long one. It includes: all banking information for both spouses; brokerage statements; loan applications; financial statements prepared by either of you; certificates of ownership of stocks and bonds; stock options records; written information evidencing pension, profit sharing, deferred compensation and retirement plans; and any partnership or joint venture agreements. Also collect all insurance policies, property deeds, personal property tax returns, vehicle registration information, credit card statements, loan statements, medical bills, mortgage records and any money judgments for or against you or your spouse.
Other Relevant Documents
Documents can be critical to establishing the financial history of a marriage. Be sure to bring with you copies of any written agreements you and your spouse may have made about property division, including prenuptial or postnuptial agreements. Also provide any joint wills, trust information and documentation of past or expected inheritances. Attorney Lisa Gregg suggests you also provide your attorney with copies of any police reports or court documents about domestic violence incidents, restraining orders or other legal cases brought against either of you, before or during the marriage.