After being stuck in quarantine together for months, many couples have been considering divorce.
Especially for those couples who wouldn’t have foreseen this prior to 2020, the divorce procedure can be daunting. The proceedings can often get emotional and contain a lot of back-and-forth.
The world of divorce law can be difficult to navigate. But with the help of a team of divorce lawyers experienced in this area of law, the process can be easier to manage.
Plus, there are a few things you can prepare in advance to make the process run smoother. Generally speaking, the more documentation you can provide, the better.
This will only help inform your lawyer of all facets of the case and help guide the process more for your own benefit. For more information on what types of documents you will need when hiring a divorce lawyer, keep reading!
Documents That Divorce Lawyers Want to See
Each state has its own set of divorce laws that can differ from its neighbors. For example, South Carolina has five reasons for divorce.
Each case is different, and as such the proceedings will vary. Some cases may need more or less paperwork than others.
Most of the information provided will be required for both individual and joint finances. This helps paint a complete picture to your divorce lawyers (and ultimately, the judge) of your financial situation.
It will also guide the process of dividing debts and assets into the later stages of the divorce.
So generally speaking, the more information you can provide—the better. This information can be categorized into different groups of documents you will need when you talk to your lawyer.
Income documents provide some of the most important information for the divorce process.
Some examples of these documents include:
- Paycheck stubs (past year)
- Federal, state, and local tax returns (past three years)
- Other business forms and expense records (especially if self-employed)
- Net worth statements
- Trust statements
- Any other financial income statements
It’s important to present this information going back at least a few years. The documents should also represent individual incomes (both your own and your spouse’s current income) as well as any joint income.
Real Estate Documents
Real estate documents are also extremely informative throughout the divorce process. Examples of relevant real estate documents are:
- Mortgage statements
- Real estate purchase documents
- Refinancing documents (if applicable)
- Tax assessor’s documents
- Other documents showing legal descriptions of real estate (can be obtained from mortgage broker/bank)
All statements should be current. Again, these documents apply to property held both individually and jointly.
Financial Account Documents
With divorce proceedings, splitting up finances can be one of the most contentious areas. The more information you can provide on your complete financial situation, the easier the process will continue to be.
Important financial documents to present to divorce lawyers include:
- Savings books/certificates
- Bank statements (past two years)
- Statements from investment accounts/portfolios
These are all documents that help create a full picture of your financial situation, in addition to the aforementioned income documents.
Whether it be health insurance, car insurance, or life insurance, all of these play an important role in providing the full picture of the marriage to your divorce lawyers and eventually, the court.
It’s important to include any documents pertaining to insurance for yourself, your spouse, and your children. This includes paperwork for the cash balance or any loans taken out against existing life insurance policies.
Divorce lawyers will also need documentation pertaining to health insurance, especially if it is tied to sources of employment for one spouse in particular.
Marital Debt Documents
Another critical factor in painting the full marriage picture is any debts accrued throughout the marriage. Relevant documents include:
- Credit card statements
- Medical bills
- Any other bills
- Loan documents
- Student loan/school tuition documents (for yourselves or your children)
It can be helpful to divorce lawyers (and the court) to put these debts into an itemized list. This information is important for all debts in your own name, your spouse’s name, or held jointly.
Retirement Fund Documents
Retirement information is another key facet to include when hiring a divorce lawyer. Pertinent retirement information should be included, for accounts like:
- Pension funds
- Retirement funds
- 401(k) plans
- Mutual Funds
Luckily, with almost all documents submitted electronically these days, this information should not be difficult to obtain.
Finally, divorce lawyers will want to see written documentation of all non-real, personal property owned individually or jointly. These documents might be:
- The title and registration to all vehicles
- Documents showing current debt on those vehicles (invoices, payment schedules)
- Insurance information for any high-value property (art, jewelry, equipment)
It’s important to note here that “vehicles” does not just pertain to cars. It also includes boats, ATVs, snowmobiles, tractors, and any other major equipment.
In addition to all of the aforementioned documentation, you will also need to provide any other legal agreements between yourself and your spouse. This may include prenuptial agreements, or separation agreements (if applicable).
It’s also helpful to keep these documents as organized as possible throughout the process. Not only will this help your attorney sort through everything, but it will ensure no documents get lost along the way.
Greenville Divorce Lawyers
This is just a general list of documents you will need to get you started. It’s important to prepare as much as possible when beginning divorce filings. This way, you make the process for your divorce lawyers as smooth as possible.
Plus, once you go to court, you will already have your ducks in a row.
For more information on what you will need to complete the divorce process in South Carolina—or for other divorce information—contact a trusted team of divorce lawyers today.
Angela Elliot Frazier is a Family Law Attorney who practices in Greenville, SC. She graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law, and has been practicing law for 14 years now. Angela Frazier believes in helping you through one of the most stressful times of your life. Learn more about her experience by clicking here.