DOCUMENTS YOU WILL NEED
In order to divide your community property and debts, the nature and extent of the property and debts must be established. This list is suggestive only and the facts and circumstances of your particular case will vary the documents you will need to acquire. You should consider this list as a starting point in acquiring and organizing your financial documents for your divorce.
One word of caution I have for you is about the availability of documents. Once parties separate or divorce is filed, documents, as well as items such as jewelry, antiques, art, and cash, can and do frequently disappear, and may be difficult or impossible to retrieve or prove that they ever existed. This is a very good reason to acquire copies of important documents now and to make secure and preserve items that could easily disappear so that they are available for later division by the court. You can't hide such items from your spouse, but you can place them in a safety deposit box, take photos of the items, and then give a copy of the inventory and photos to your spouse so that your spouse will know where the items are and that they are being preserved for division by order of the court. It is always best to know the state of your financial affairs now, before things escalate into a divorce and vital documents, as well as family photos, momentos, or jewelry disappear.
AGREEMENTS BETWEEN THE PARTIES
- Prenuptial Agreements
- Postnuptial Agreements
- All other agreements between spouses as to nature and extent of property and debts, and of how title to property is held.
- Your and your spouse’s paycheck stubs from January 1st of the current year, if available. If not available, then for at least the last two months.
- Your and your spouse’s 1099 forms (nonemployee income) last two years
- Your and your spouse’s W-2s for last two years
- Copy of personal federal and state tax returns, with all attachments, for the last 2 years.
- Copy of business federal and state tax returns, with all attachments, for last 2 years
- If a party is self-employed, it is best to acquire the returns for as many years as may be available.
- It never hurts to have more years of the parties’ tax returns and records.
- Checks, statements, and registers for your and your spouse’s accounts, either individual, joint with each other or a third party, for the last 2 years. Most of these documents will be available online.
- Deposit receipts, savings passbooks, certificates of deposit for last 2 years
- Copies of current balance on deposit with any financial institutions, including saving and loan associations, and including account number and account holder
- Inventory of safe deposit box contents. If contains noncash valuables, take photos.
- You will need statements for (1) date of marriage, (2) date of separation and (3) the current date to prove nature and extent of money in these accounts to be divided in the divorce.
- There may be issues in your divorce that require more than 2 years’ records, such as tracing money used to purchase a residence or other assets with a claim of separate property interest, or such as disputed value of a business and its income available for support.
- Remember that banks only keep records for 7 years, so if you need that many years’ records for your particular issues in your marriage, begin acquiring those old records right now while they may still exist and are obtainable.
- You will need statements for (1) date of marriage, (2) date of separation and (3) the current date to prove nature and extent of securities in these accounts to be divided in the divorce, or to be confirmed as the separate property of one party.
- Many companies only keep records for a certain number of years, so if you need records to establish tracing or that these investments are your separate property, you should request these documents now and before they become unavailable.
FINANCIAL STATEMENTS/ PROFIT AND LOSS STATEMENTS/LOAN APPLICATIONS
- Acquire these for at least the last 5 years, whether or not used to obtain loans and regardless of whether aloan was obtained.
- Lenders maintain records for only so many years. Acquire these now before they become unavailable.
- You will need statements for (1) date of marriage, (2) date of separation and (3) the current date to prove nature and extent of these accounts to be divided in the divorce, or to be confirmed as the separate debt of one party.
- You will need the above statements for all the debts of both parties. You may wish to use the INVENTORY OF DEBTS AND LIABILITIES,which is a part of the Client Questionnaire available on this website, to help you inventory your debts and organize these documents.
- Most of these records are easily obtained by downloading them from the Internet. When you respond to discovery, most likely all statements for the last year or two will be requested for all debts.
- Any records evidencing title to an asset, such as registration for motor vehicles and boats, showing name in which title is held.
REAL ESTATE DOCUMENTS
- Deeds to all property owned by you and/or your spouse individually, jointly or with another party or entity.
- Escrow documents for all real estate owned before or during marriage, or after separation. Records of any short sale of real property.
- Mortgage documents on property owned by you and/or your spouse, including the most current month’s mortgage statement and loan application used to obtain the loan. Documents used to obtain any mortgage modification.
- Property tax statements for each parcel of real property
- Source of down payment records. If you claim you invested your separate property money into real property, you will need documents to trace the down payment to your separate property bank account or asset. Remember that lenders and banks only keep records for 7 years, so start now to acquire the documents you will need to trace your money and the investment while those documents may still be available.
- Normally, you will not need appraisals of all real property, vehicles and other items of personal property right away because such items are valued as of the date of trial. Also, your attorney will know the type of qualifications your appraiser must have for his appraisal to have credibility in court.
- However, if you have already had appraisals of any property, then keep those as part of your documents you are now assembling.
- Employment contracts
- Sales contracts
- Construction contracts
- Real estate purchase contracts
BENEFIT PLANS: RETIREMENT/401K/STOCK OPTIONS
- You will need statements for (1) date of marriage, (2) date of separation and (3) the current date to prove nature and extent of these accounts to be divided in the divorce, or to be confirmed as the separate property of a party.
- If it is your Plan, ask your employer or Plan Administrator for a plan summary. These will sometimes be available online.
- Documents of any loans taken against these plans and what any withdrawal of funds or loan proceeds were used for, such as purchase of assets, payment of educational expenses, etc.
- Documents showing the exact name of the plan and the name and contact information for the Plan Administrator.
- If there is a business involved, the records necessary will be extensive and include the corporate books, records of income and expenses of the business, and tax returns.
- A forensic accountant will be necessary to value the business and your forensic accountant will prepare a list of documents he needs to examine to determine the value of the business and determine income available for support. A forensic accountant is a specially qualified expert specially educated and certified to testify in family law matters regarding the value of businesses, the parties' income available for support, as well as prepare a balance sheet of community property and debts.
- Copies of the face sheets and schedules of all insurance policies, including, but not limited to, life, health, real property, personal property, umbrella, auto, and disability.
- Have documentation of nature and extent of health and medical insurance coverage for spouse and children.
- Statements for each insurance showing the cost of the insurance.
- Complete the HOUSEHOLD INVENTORY form which is part of the Client Questionnaire available on this website to inventory and value all household furniture, furnishings, appliances, electronics, jewelry, art, collections.
- Collect and organize documents that establish the value of these assets and any encumbrances on these items.
- If you claim a particular item is your separate property, then also collect evidence to establish that, such as photos, emails, cards, letters, court orders and judgments, title documents, probate documents, etc.
- Prior divorce judgments for both parties, including martial settlement agreements, modifications of Judgment.
- Of particular interest in prior divorces are the Income and Expense Declarations, Property Declarations, and other documents concerning the extent of assets and debts, as well as any history of domestic violence.
- Copies of all litigation either party has been involved in, such as auto accident claims, business litigation, etc., before and during marriage and after date of separation. These may reveal extent of income, assets, or liens against the community property.
- Records of all bankruptcies filed by either party before or during the marriage or after separation.
WILLS AND TRUSTS
- Copy of your will
- Any trust documents, including copies of the trust instrument, inventory, and tax returns, if any, for the trust.
LICENSES and EDUCATION
- Documents evidencing your or your spouse’s licenses to practice any profession or provide any service.
- If a party acquired a degree during marriage, records of the community property money spent to acquire that educational degree and/or license, as well as how that degree has enhanced that party’s earning capacity.
- Any other documents that will help to establish the extent of the parties’ separate and community property assets and debts.
- Any other documents that will help to establish the extent of the parties’ income available for support and/or need for support.
- Any other documents to assist in tracing investments to either a community or separate property source.
- Any records regarding any reimbursement you may be seeking.
- Any other documents to assist the court in making its determination on the issue of child custody and visitation, or issuance of domestic violence restraining orders.
5429 Cahuenga Boulevard
N. Hollywood, California 91601-2918
Tele: (818) 404-117-
Fax: (818) 404-1170