7 Documents Your Divorce Attorney Will Need and How to Organize Them

Do you have these documents organized and ready for your divorce attorney?

A couple in mediation
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Before the divorce process begins there are documents your divorce attorney will need. These will include income tax returns and documents proving other forms of income. Documents related to any marital debt, assets and property valuations and so forth.

Attorneys want documents because documents don't lie. Your spouse can say to a mediator or in divorce court, "I paid for the mortgage out of separate monies, not martial funds," in an attempt to retain the total interest in the marital home, documents can prove whether or not he is being truthful.

So, you need to provide your attorney with any documents that tell the story of what has happened in your marriage financially and in any other way.

When you are readying your documents you can provide paper copies or digital copies to your attorney and be sure to keep copies for yourself. Make sure, if you provide digital copies, that you keep them backed up or saved online to software such as Google Docs so they are easily accessible to you and won't be lost to you if your computer crashes.

It’s important that you provide a complete and very organized file with all documents to your attorney. This will keep down confusion for the attorney and help make the negotiation stage of the divorce run more smoothly. Plus if you go to court, the more organized and complete your document file is the more supporting evidence you will have for your case.

A best practice is organizing the documents into seven specific categories.


1. Income Related Divorce Documents

  • Your paycheck stubs from all sources of employment over the last year. If you are self – employed provide income tax returns and any tax forms or business forms related to self – employed income. This should include documentation from any business you or your spouse held an interest in over the past three years.
  • Try to also get your spouse's paycheck stubs for the same period of time. Those check stubs will often show year to date earnings and deductions.
  • If either you or your spouse is self-employed, documentation regarding business expenses is necessary. These may include check registers, bank statements, canceled checks, payment receipts, financial statements and profit and loss statements.
  • At a minimum, copies of your joint or individual tax returns, both state and federal, for the past three years.
  • If you or your spouse work for cash make sure you have copies of check ledgers that will show any expenses paid during the marriage.
  • A copy of any financial statements or statements of net worth prepared by you or your spouse for the purpose of securing bank loans or for any other purpose.
  • Any other information that you feel will help you establish your net worth, your spouse's net worth, your joint net worth, your income, and your spouse's income.

2. Real Estate Related Divorce Documents

  • Any documents showing the legal description of any real estate owned together or separately. These can be obtained from your mortgage company or bank.
  • Your current mortgage statements on any mortgages you have on real estate property.
  • All documents pertaining to the initial purchase of the real estate.
  • If the real estate has been refinanced provide all documents pertaining to the refinance.
  • Tax assessor’s statement pertaining to any and all real estate.

3. Divorce Documents Related to Joint Financial Accounts

  • Savings passbooks and savings certificates of individual or joint accounts held individually or jointly by you and your spouse.
  • Any and all bank statements for the past 2 years from any account in your name or held jointly with your spouse.
  • Statements from any investment accounts you two hold jointly and separately. 

4. Life Insurance Documents Related to Divorce

  • Any current life insurance policies on your life, your spouse’s life or on your children whether it is an individual policy or a policy through your employer. You should also provide all statements you have regarding that life insurance policy including any documents indicating a cash balance or loans against them.

    5. Divorce Documents Related to Marital Debts

    • An itemized list of all debts in your name or your spouse’s name.  
    • A list of any outstanding, unsecured debts including credit cards, medical bills, and any other loans.  

    6. Divorce Documents Related to Pension Funds

    • A copy of recent statements for pension funds, retirement funds, 401K plans, mutual fund or IRAs. 

    7. Divorce Documents Related to Automobiles Owned

    • Title or registration to all automobiles/boats/ATV’s/snowmobiles, farm equipment or other vehicles owned by you or your spouse individually or jointly.   
    • Any documents demonstrating the current outstanding secured debt on the automobiles/boats/snowmobiles/ATV’s including payment coupons, amortization schedules or monthly invoices.