What Documents Are Needed For Divorce?
When going through a divorce, you’ll gather more paper than for just about any other event in your life. There are a number of issues pertinent to your divorce, and the more work you do in advance gathering relevant evidence, the more efficient your divorce attorney can be when litigating your divorce in court or negotiating a favorable settlement on your behalf. Read on to learn about which documents are important to gather for a divorce matter, and call a knowledgeable New Jersey divorce attorney for help with a New Jersey family law matter.
Documents Concerning Income
Proving income is of paramount importance in a divorce. Both parties need to disclose all sources of income in order to inform the court’s decision concerning property division, alimony, child support, and child custody. Income-related documents may include:
- Pay stubs from all sources of income over the past year, for yourself and your spouse
- Documents showing business expenses if either spouse is self-employed
- Cash disbursements from stocks, investment accounts, rent, and other sources of income
- Copies of each party’s individual and/or joint tax returns, state and federal, from the past three to five years
- Financial statements pertaining to each party’s net worth, such as those prepared for bank loans or insurance applications
- Any other documents showing the individual and joint income and net worth of you and your spouse
Documents Concerning Assets: Stocks, Real Estate, Debts, Retirement Plans, Etc.
Resolving the appropriate division of assets is often the meatiest part of any divorce proceeding. Whether agreed to in a settlement or determined by the court, the proper division of assets requires both parties to fully disclose all assets that might be a part of the marital estate. Separate assets must also be disclosed because they affect each party’s net worth, which matters for support awards and child custody.
Any assets owned jointly or separately must be disclosed. Parties should be prepared to collect and produce documents concerning:
- Retirement accounts, including pensions, 401k plans, and IRAs
- Stocks, bonds, investment accounts, and other financial assets
- Business ownership
- Deeds and other proof of real estate ownership
- Mortgage payments, refinances, tax assessments, and other documents concerning real estate
- Bank account statements, for both joint and individual accounts
- Itemized list of all debts, including credit cards, medical bills, car loans, and other loans
- Automobile title or registration
- Insurance policies, particularly life insurance
If you are considering divorce, start collecting copies of documents relating to income, assets, and debts even before you get a lawyer. Talk to your property division attorney to discuss your finances and those of your spouse to find out which additional documents might be necessary or helpful for your case.
Child Custody Documents
In addition to documents affecting the parties’ finances and assets, the parties may bring in an entirely different set of documents concerning child custody. While the financial health of each party is one aspect of child custody, other factors may come into play depending on the nature of the parties and their familial circumstances. For example, a history of domestic violence, drug or alcohol abuse, or criminal activity by one parent is likely to affect the court’s decision should child custody be in dispute.
To prove that one parent has substance abuse problems, acts of familial violence, or criminal history, the other parent may introduce documents including:
- Records of criminal arrests or convictions
- Court records regarding restraining orders
- Documents from welfare agencies, law enforcement agencies, child protective services, or other government agencies
- Statements from family, friends, and other witnesses to violence or substance abuse
- Medical records showing physical violence or substance abuse
- Communications between the parents showing neglect, threats, abuse, or other issues
Other documents may also come into play depending on the arguments made by each party. For example, to show that one parent is fit for primary custody, they may provide the child’s school records, commendations, or documents concerning recreational activity to show how well the child performs when in the custody of that parent. Talk to your child custody lawyer to discuss other helpful documents that may support your child custody claims.
If you’re considering filing for divorce in New Jersey, call the experienced and effective Union family law attorney John B. D’Alessandro for a consultation.