When you initially file for divorce, your attorney is going to require a stack of detailed financial documents to file with the court as part of your formal financial statement. Although it goes by different names depending on your state, (Financial Affidavit, Financial Declaration, Statement of Net Worth, etc.) and the requirements will vary, it all comes down to serving the same purpose: officially verifying your income and expenses.
This report is generally due within the first weeks of filing, but depends on whether you are submitting the initial petition for divorce or responding with a counter petition. Although it can be tedious, time-consuming and overwhelming, gathering all of the required documents is essential for the accuracy of your case from the beginning to the end. It has a major impact on pretty much every financial aspect of the divorce, including spousal maintenance, child support and asset division.
Here are some examples of the types of documents your attorney will likely need:
- Complete federal and state income tax returns, including W-2s, Form 1099 and Form K-1, as well as supporting tax schedules and attachments filed by you or any entity in which you have a majority or controlling interest for the two tax years before the petition in this case is filed.
- Pay stubs and other evidence of all earned and unearned income for the 12 months prior to the petition being filed.
- All loan applications and financial statements prepared or used by the party completing the financial declaration within the 12 months before the petition in this case was filed.
- Documents verifying the value of all real estate in which the party has an interest, including the most recent appraisal, tax valuation and refinance documents.
- Statements for all financial accounts, including checking, savings, money market funds, certificates of deposit, brokerage, investment and retirement for three months prior to the filing of the petition.
- Other documents may be necessary depending on your state and local requirements. Check with a local attorney for a complete list of exactly what you will need.
If any of the documents required for your Financial Declaration are not reasonably available or are in the possession of the other party, estimate the amounts to the best of your ability, enter a short explanation describing the basis for your estimation and give the reason the documents are not available.
The process of gathering, copying, scanning, redacting and bates stamping the financial declaration documents is time-consuming for you attorney’s legal team. By carefully organizing the documents yourself and promptly returning calls or emails, you can end up reducing your expenses.They may have questions regarding some of the information you provide or need further documentation to back up some of your claims, and cooperation is key to completing the paperwork in a timely manner.
Anything you can do to simplify the work for your attorney and their staff will wind up saving you money in the long run.
Mat Camp is a former Lexicon Services Online Editor, who focused on providing a comprehensive look into all aspects of the divorce experience. On MensDivorce.com, he concentrated on issues, such as parenting time, custodial rights, mediation, the division of assets, and so much more.
Mr. Camp used the wealth of experience of Cordell & Cordell attorneys to bring tangible answers to reader questions in Ask a Lawyer articles, as well as offer a step by step process through the divorce experience with Cordell & Cordell Co-Founder and Principal Partner Joseph E. Cordell in Divorce 101: A Guide for Men.
Mr. Camp used thorough research to highlight the challenging reality that those who go through divorce or child custody issues face. He helped foster the continued success of the Men’s Divorce Survival Guide, the Men’s Divorce Podcast, and the Men’s Divorce YouTube series “Attorney Bites.”