Preparing for a divorce begins with information gathering. You can ask your attorney to assist you or you can choose to put things together yourself in order to assist your attorney. Regardless, you need to know what documentation is necessary to make the legal aspect of divorce go more smoothly.
Here are a few easy tips that will educate you and assist your attorney:
- Get a copy of your credit report. You can get a copy of your credit report through credit reporting agencies such as Experian, TransUnion, or Equifax. Some agencies provide credit monitoring services as well. Obtaining your credit report will provide you with information on any debts you and/or your spouse have, as well as your payment history.
- Look up the retail and trade-in values of your vehicles. This includes motorcycles, ATV’s, boats, etc.
- Get an idea about the fair market value of your property at Zillow.com.
- Check the County Recorder’s website at www.recorder.maricopa.gov to research or confirm any real property owned by you or your spouse, how the property is titled, and whether any liens or encumbrances are recorded against the property.
- Get copies of your tax returns and copies of any returns for any entities in which you have an interest. Usually, the last five years is sufficient. You can ask your accountant directly for this information, or make a request from the IRS at www.irs.gov. Copies from the IRS are typically available for the last 6 years.
- Prepare a spending history. This is different than a budget, which defines the financial boundaries within which you need to or want to try to live. A spending history provides you with data on the actual historical expenditures of your family. Look at your bank statements, cash withdrawal activity, and credit card charges. Categorize them into housing expenses, food expenses, vacations, etc., for the last 12 months to get a clear idea of how your family income is spent.
You may also want to look into the following:
- Research corporations or partnerships on www.azcc.gov.
- Check the status of your case or whether a divorce action has been filed by your spouse at www.superiorcourt.maricopa.gov.
- Make a list of all the assets and debts you know to exist, with approximate values.
Although going through the exercises above may seem like a lot of work, doing so will help you better understand your present situation. And, if you can compile and present information to your attorney in an organized fashion, it will also help you save on legal fees. Moreover, by focusing on the business of getting a divorce rather than strictly the emotional aspect, it will help you make solid decisions that will benefit you in the long-term.
Contact us at Hallier Stearns PLC to help you navigate the complex issues of divorce.