By: Attorney Jeffrey D. Kiesling | Associate
If you believe that you may be facing divorce, you should secure all available financial documents. In most divorce cases the family’s finances are the primary focus of the divorce action because the parties want to know who gets what. The Court will rely on financial records as its basis for dividing the property, assets and liabilities of the marriage. Undocumented financial claims will not be persuasive to the Court. Since you are going to need and rely upon financial records, it makes sense to proactively identify and collect them.
Some of the documents may be in your possession, but you will most likely need to approach your employer, accountant, attorney and financial planner other documents. Please note that if your spouse is not aware of your intention to get a divorce you should try to avoid bringing attention to your collection of your financial records as it may cause suspicion.
Here are some suggestions for financial documents/information you will want to locate:
• Bank accounts. Whether you or your spouse have joint or separate bank accounts (checking, savings or both), you need to know where the accounts are and approximately how much is in each account.
• Life insurance policies. Look for policies — those personally purchased and those provided by employers. At some point you’ll have to find out the cash value of each policy by requesting a printout from the insurance company directly or from your investment firm or employer.
• Records pertaining to your home. Monthly mortgage statements tell how much equity you have in your home and how much you still owe. If you have a home equity loan on your home in addition to the mortgage, you’ll need that documentation as well.
• Financial records on recreational property and vehicles. Cottages, time-shares, boats, motor homes, cars, motorcycles and trucks are all part of your asset base. If you have a mortgage or loan outstanding on them, you’ll need to know how much equity you have in the property and what you still owe. Recent statements from lending institutions should tell you.
• Make a list of everything of value that you own. You’re not going to have these things assessed at this point; you just want a record of what there is and where.
• Retirement accounts, stocks and mutual-fund investments and pensions.
• Investment real estate and business interests.
• Your last three (3) years’ tax returns. Tax returns are valuable tracking documents to confirm income, profits, deductions and financial holdings.
Once you obtain these records keep them in a safe place until you are ready to proceed with your divorce at which point your attorney will review them with you and discuss the best plan for you moving forward in order to maximize your financial stake in the assets of the marriage.
If you have questions or would like assistance from an experienced attorney, please call Wynn & Wynn, P.C. 1-800-852-5211 or request a free consultation.