In this series we’ve been talking about three most frequently asked questions that I get from people who are facing a divorce.
We are going to shift gears a little bit now and talk about the four questions that you should be asking. Question number one that you should be asking is what sort of information should I be gathering?
A divorce is a law suit. It’s just a particular kind of lawsuit. Like any other lawsuit if the case goes to trial or if you have a hearing you’re going to be required to prove your case and in order to do this you’re going to need evidence. In most cases often the best evidence comes in the form of either pictures or the subject of this question and that is documentation. There is no way to list every conceivable document that you may need, there are some that are common to virtually all divorce cases.
Number one would be a copy of any domestic contracts. What I mean by that is if you have either a prenuptial agreement or a postnuptial agreement, you’re going to want to have those documents. Copies of your last couple of years of income tax returns, bank statements for the last couple of years are also going to be extremely helpful to determine spending patterns etc. and that’s particularly important if you are concerned about money being suddenly moved or disappearing from accounts without any reasonable explanation for why those changes are occurring. Same with investment account statements and retirement account statements. Other statements that are also important would be mortgage statements. If you have car loans, or credit cards, having those statements. Virtually any type of loan agreement and off course for business owners keeping business records such as invoices, account statements, balance sheets, incoming cash flow statements, all the sort of documentation they would normally save as a business owner. Again finally what we mentioned earlier photographs that are related to the divorce. For most of these statements I suggest that people start by trying to gather at least three, last three years worth of statements. With many companies moving to electronic statements it’s become a whole lot easier to obtain these documents. However it is important to remember that passwords can be changed by your spouse which is why I usually suggest printing hard copies and putting them in a safe place where your spouse is not going to find them.