Gathering Information For Your Divorce

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You’re thinking about a divorce. You feel overwhelmed and don’t know what to do or where to start. There are so many unanswered questions. You hear friends and family talk about their divorce experience, and they may even try to give you advice. But, not all divorces are created equal and one size doesn’t fit all. Some divorces are more friendly, and others are very hostile. Some involve minor children. Some divorces involve a large amount of assets, and others may involve less assets and lots of debt. Some may involve claims for alimony. Regardless of your situation, one of the primary issues in any divorce is to create an inventory of documents, evidence and information that are relevant to the issues in your case, such as the division of assets and debts, custody, child support, alimony, etc. Only after gathering that inventory of information will your attorney be able to properly advise you. How well you are able to navigate through your divorce may rest in large part on your ability to produce that information. Gathering this information in a logical and organized way can make the entire process less burdensome. And, it has the added benefit of saving you money. Being proactive and presenting your attorney with relevant information in a timely, organized and logical manner will allow your attorney to be more efficient and spend less time gathering information and focus on the underlying issues in your divorce. Having done your homework in advance by gathering relevant information will allow you to identify questions for your attorney that can be addressed sooner rather than later so you can acquire a better understanding of your case which will help overcome some of those overwhelming feelings. The following list includes much of the information your attorney will need. If you really want to impress your attorney, organize the information in separately labeled folders that your attorney can incorporate into their file.

Personal/Background Information

  • Basic information for you and your spouse: Full name, any prior or maiden names, date of birth, and social security number
  • Contact information including address, phone numbers, and email
  • Wedding details, date and location of marriage
  • Any prior marriages and past divorce decrees
  • Whether you are alleging physical or emotional abuse, evidence of any criminal convictions, restraining or other court orders
  • Name, address and phone number for your spouse’s attorney, if any
  • Prenuptial or Postnuptial agreements
  • Date of physical separation
  • Any agreements or arrangements with your spouse regarding payment of bills, finances, parenting time and custody with children, occupancy of the marital home, etc.
  • Any medical/disability concerns for either party or children and supporting medical records/documentation
  • Any other lawsuits/criminal charges pending for either party
  • If either party is wanting a name change

Custody/Parenting Time

  • Full Name, date of birth and social security number for any children
  • Current custody and parenting time arrangements, including which parent the children live with and whether or not a custody dispute will be part of the divorce
  • Information about children from previous marriages/relationships including full name, date of birth, social security number and any custody/parenting time arrangements for those children
  • Details about child support if any, including any child support orders
  • Who provides health and dental insurance to cover minor children and cost for dependent insurance coverage

Employment/Income Information

  • Name, address, phone numbers for both parties’ employment
  • Compensation/Salary Information
  • 12 months paystubs for each party
  • Past five years individual and business tax returns with schedules and attachments
  • Past five years year end Profit and Loss Statements, year end Balance Sheets for any owned businesses or self-employment
  • Buy-sell agreements for any owned businesses or self-employment
  • Any business appraisals
  • Any loan or credit applications prepared on behalf of either party or any business or self-employment of either party
  • List of any employment benefits to include health/dental insurance, disability insurance, stock options, retirement, car allowance, cell phone, bonus, vacation, etc.
  • Social Security Earnings History and Report

Real Estate

  • Copies of any deeds to real estate in which either party or business has an interest
  • Most current mortgage statements to any real estate
  • Current tax statement
  • Purchase Agreement and closing statement for purchase of any real estate
  • Appraisal or market value opinions for any real property
  • Rental agreements or lease for any rental property

Household Goods, Furnishings, Vehicles, Personal Property

  • Inventory list with estimated resale values for any personal property items exceeding $500
  • Vehicle, boat, four wheeler, trailer, camper, motor home titles and estimated resale value with NADA or Kelly Blue Book private party appraisal
  • Loan and encumbrance information for any item of personal property with most recent loan statement
  • Description of jewelry, antiques, art, collectibles with appraisal or other estimates as to value
  • Insurance policy that contains a stipulated or insured value for any item of personal property
  • Inventory of all equipment, machinery, stored grain pre-purchased inputs or other inventory
  • List itemizing desired division of personal property items


  • Most recent statements for any pension, 401(k), profit sharing, IRA, SEP, ESOP, annuity, deferred compensation, or any other retirement plans and accounts.

Other Financial, Investments, Banking, Insurance

  • Past 12 months statements for all checking, savings, credit and other banking and deposit accounts
  • Most recent statement for children’s banking account(s) and any educational savings plans
  • Description of amount and location of any cash holdings
  • Declaration pages for any life and disability policies
  • Statements for any non-qualified retirement investments including stocks, bonds, mutual funds, notes, accounts receivable or other investments or holdings
  • Most recent statement for any coop or credit dividend or patronage accounts
  • Most recent statement for any credit card points, perks, or rewards
  • Most recent statement for any health savings account or other cafeteria benefit plans
  • Any unexercised stock options or rights to future stock options

Credit and Debt Information

  • Most recent statement for all debts and loans including credit card, student loan, line of credit, mortgage, car loan, revolving loans, secured loans, unsecured loans, notes, etc.
  • Determine who is legally or contractually obligated to the creditor for payment on each debt
  • Tax debt
  • Statements for Support Arrearages
  • Provide a current credit report for yourself, and also your spouse if possible
  • Statements for any medical or other unpaid health related care


  • Prepare a detailed and itemized list of your average reasonable and necessary monthly expenses. For any expenses that are not paid monthly, or if the amount fluctuates from month to month, determine the annual amount for that expense and divide by 12 to include when preparing your average reasonable and necessary monthly expenses
  • Prepare the above budget for what your current monthly expenses are, as well as your best estimate as to what your reasonable and necessary monthly expenses will be following the divorce
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