What Documents Should I Gather To Help My Divorce Case?

One of the main issues in any divorce case is the equitable distribution of marital assets and debts.  Equitable distribution is what Virginia courts call the distribution of property and debt obligations between spouses when dividing marital property during a divorce.  This issue alone can unnecessarily delay litigation or negotiations.  You can likely avoid such delay with some due diligence before you file for divorce.

Before your assets and debts can be distributed fairly between you and your spouse, you should determine the value of each asset and the balance of each date as of the date you separated.  Hopefully, you will engage competent legal counsel to help you make this determination.  There are several documents that can assist you and your attorney.  These documents can help move your case along faster.

First, with respect to your real property, consider having an appraisal performed on the marital residence and any rental properties.  At a bare minimum, print the Zillow “Zestimates” off the internet.  Be sure to also gather a recent mortgage statement and a mortgage statement as of the date of your separation showing the principal balance.   If you have a second mortgage or an equity line, you should collect the same documentation for these debts.  

Second, as to your personal property, determine the NADA or Kelly Blue Book value for any vehicles you currently own that were purchased during the marriage.  You can visit NADA or Kelly Blue Book online and enter the pertinent vehicle information. If you have a car payment, be sure to gather documentation that shows the monthly payment.

Third, take advantage of online banking.  For any bank or investment accounts you can legally access online, as well as any credit cards or other debts, print off the account balances both present and as of the date of separation.  You should gather the same documentation for any retirement accounts and any whole life insurance policies.   If you cannot obtain this documentation online, you may be able to obtain it directly from your financial provider or your employer.

Lastly, if you own a business, you should know that your business is also subject to equitable distribution.   The documents that can assist your attorney when determining any intrinsic value to your business are your business tax returns and your profit/loss statements for the last few years.

If you gather the documentation listed above before you meet with an attorney, you will certainly be ahead of the game.  Your attorney will understand if some of this documentation is not in your possession, or you cannot access your spouse’s account information.  He or she can discuss with you the next steps after you narrow down what documentation you still need.  

To find out more about equitable distribution, or about any aspect of divorce, please contact me at (804) 320-6600, or by e-mail at jbaez@hmalaw.com.

This post is provided as an educational service and should not be construed as legal advice. Readers in need of assistance with a legal matter should retain the services of competent counsel.