Starting the divorce process can seem like a daunting task. No matter which way you go about your divorce, from litigation to mediation, you will be asked for a lot of paperwork in order to get started. This is a great time of year to get that information together; the end of the year is a great time to get a full picture of earnings, expenses, budgets, taxes and other important information. For those deciding to start the process of Mediation in the New Year, here is a list of the paperwork you will want to have prepared:
1. Budgets: You may each have a budget for yourselves, you as a couple and for the children. It is important to come up with an estimated budget for what your life will look like after separation. Be sure to include:
- Health Insurance: Include the cost for both parties after separation. (Once divorce is final, if one spouse was covered by the other’s Health insurance, they will need a new policy.)
- Life Insurance: Make sure that whoever provides the primary support for the family is covered so that there will be funds available in case of emergency.
- Housing Costs: If one party will be renting a new apartment or buying a new house.
- Remember, take your regular household expenses (gas, water, hydro, food, travel etc.) and create estimates for what that will look like for two households
2. Recent pay stubs.
3. Most Recent Statements from All Accounts (last four digits of the account number ONLY)
- Mutual Funds
- Any other accounts in which you have individual or joint investments.
4. List of Social Security Numbers for each party and their children.
5. Income Tax Forms for the last three to five years.
6. Real Estate Holdings & All Mortgage Information
- List the last four numbers of the Account
- Name of Bank holding the Mortgage
- Terms of payments.
7. Retirement Accounts
- Name of Institution holding account (last four digits of the account number)
- Terms of Payment – death benefit, annuity
- Amount in each account
- Include any stock options.
8. List of All Assets acquired during the marriage: While this may not be a list that you agree on, the mediation process is intended to help you work through dividing your assets in an equitable manner. If you disagree, each of you should make your own lists that can be discussed as part of the negotiation. If you have already divided your assets, you may choose to make the list anyway so that it can be included in your agreement. Think about:
- Antiques, etc.
You will need a minimum of three copies of this information, one for each of you and one for the Mediator. Having this paperwork ready before starting the Mediation process (or any other divorce process) will be helpful to both parties. It will allow both parties the chance to get a better picture of where you are financially, which will help when you begin the negotiation process.