Your Divorce File: What Is It and Why do You Need One?

Goodman Law Firm discusses why a divorce file is necessary when filing for divorce.
  • Sep 16 2019

Have you been considering a divorce? Whether you and your spouse agree that your marriage is over, a divorce action can be complicated for many reasons. Emotionally, you are ending a relationship with your partner. Financially, you are dividing one home into two separate homes. Legally, you need to meet all requirements for a divorce. If you and your spouse disagree on important issues such as matters related to children, property division, or debt division, the legal complications increase.

A divorce file can help you and your Chicago divorce attorney save time in creating a game plan for your divorce to protect your best interests. Matters related to property and debt division can be complex. By compiling financial documents into a divorce file, you can have a more productive discussion about property division strategies with your attorney during your first consultation. 

Documents to Include in Your Divorce File

The list below is a general list of financial documents applicable in most cases. Your case is unique. After reviewing the list, additional documents may be required to ensure your attorney has all relevant financial information to formulate a property division strategy for your case.

Divorce file documents 

Verification of Income, Marital Agreements & Estate Documents

  • Prenuptial agreement, postnuptial agreement, or other marital agreement
  • Proof of current income for you and your spouse, such as copies of pay stubs or other payment histories
  • Employment Contracts
  • Federal and state individual income tax returns for the past three to five years for you and your spouse
  • Business tax returns for the past three to five years for all business either you or your spouse hold an interest
  • Separation Agreement, if applicable
  • Trust Agreements, Wills, and other Estate Planning Documents
  • Powers of Attorney
  • Health Care Directives and Living Wills
  • Beneficiary Designations

Financial Accounts, Real Estate, and Other Assets

  • Bank Statement, including statements for checking accounts, savings account, and online accounts (such as PayPal)
  • Retirement Account Statements, including 401k accounts, Individual Retirement Accounts, Roth IRAs, pension accounts, 403b accounts, and annuities
  • Stock Portfolios and Stock Options
  • Benefits Statements
  • Educational Savings Accounts
  • Certificates of Deposit
  • Insurance Policies, including life insurance, health insurance, homeowner’s insurance, automobile insurance, long-term care insurance, disability insurance, and other types of insurance coverage
  • Deeds to Real Estate
  • Titles to Vehicles and Boats
  • Property Tax Statements
  • Property Appraisals
  • List of Personal Property for Both Spouses
  • List of Safety Deposit Box Contents
  • Inheritances
  • Interest in Family Trusts or Family Businesses

Proof of Debts & Monthly Expenses

  • Mortgages, including recent mortgage statements
  • Credit Card Statements
  • Personal Loans
  • Utility Bills, School Tuition, Medical Bills, and Other Monthly Bills
  • Loan Documents
  • Monthly Budget
  • Completed Financial Statements

The list is extensive; however, the more information you have before you begin the divorce process, the easier it will be for you and your attorney to analyze the situation and prioritize your goals.  Nevertheless, if you cannot locate or find any or all of the documents, do not postpone contacting and meeting with an attorney. Your attorney can help you request copies of these documents from your spouse or other applicable institutions.   It’s more important for your attorney to identify that key issues in your case, than to have all documents available at your initial meeting.  

Contact a Chicago Divorce Attorney for Help

It may take a little time to put together a divorce file, but it will be worth it. Working with a Chicago divorce attorney who has experience handling complex property settlement cases is strongly recommended. The divorce settlement you receive has a significant impact on your future. Choose an attorney who can help you receive the settlement you deserve and need to provide for yourself and your children. Contact the Illinois divorce attorneys at the Goodman Law Firm to discuss your legal options.

Posted in: Divorce