One of the most important parts of navigating your divorce is collecting and managing important documents that you will need. The faster you get started collecting the things we list below, the sooner you will be able to get control of your divorce proceedings.
Documents can objectively illustrate various decision made throughout the divorce. Although many of the documents we discuss in this blog are electronically exchanged, there are some situations where having hardcopies will be necessary.
Organization is also crucial when gatherings documents for your case. Although you might not realize it when you first start the divorce process, issues might later develop in your case that require you to prove certain dates, times, places, amounts, etc. Below, we recap Chapter 5 of attorney Michelle May O’Neil’s book, What You Need to Know About Divorce in Texas so that you know what types of documents you need to collect for your divorce.
You might encounter a point in your divorce proceedings when confirming your memory of events will either harm or confirm your credibility. When you testify, your credibility is everything, and if a judge or jury thinks you lack credibility, everything you say will be questioned or doubted. This is why you want to gather documents that build your credibility and support your side of a dispute.
Smoking Gun Documents
Documents that can make or break your case need to be given to your attorney as soon as possible. Documents that are good for your side of the case can be strategically used by your attorney to get you a better settlement. Don’t bother trying to hide documents that show something negative about you. Instead, discuss the issue you are worried about with your attorney early in your case.
Statements from banks and lending institutions can demonstrate a spouse’s ability to pay their debts and can be used to prove each spouse’s net worth.
Income Tax Returns
The following types of tax returns are essential for your divorce case:
- Personal tax returns
- Corporate tax returns
- Partnership tax returns
- Joint venture tax returns
- Income tax returns
- K-1 forms
Supporting tax documents are also important and should be collected as well
Paycheck statements can reveal the following information about a spouse:
- Retirement benefits
- 401 (k) contributions
This information is particularly important for the year of the divorce, when tax returns are unavailable and need to be updated as the divorce progresses.
Bank Account Information
Gather and make copies of the following banking information:
- Bank statements
- Check stubs
- Deposit slips
- Canceled checks
- Certificates of deposit
- Savings and loans
- Credit union statements
Brokerage Account Statements
Secure all statements from any brokerage and investment accounts. These types of accounts usually include:
- Mutual funds
Inform your lawyer of any physical stock certificates or bonds you or your spouse possess.
Similar to financial statements, loan applications reveal information about assets, debt, and cash flow. If available, collect loan applications for the following things:
- Home mortgages
- Second mortgages
- Home equity lines of credit
- Credit cards
- Car loans
If you or your spouse own a business, loan documents for the enterprise can reveal information about personal guarantees that exceed the business entity structure.
Business Ownership Records
When it comes to corporations, you need to track down all records that indicate ownership interests. This includes:
- Articles of incorporation
- Operating agreements
- Stock certificates
- Corporate minutes
For partnerships and limited partnerships, you want to look for documents containing titles or captions that say “agreement.” For limited liability companies, search for documents with the words “trusts” or “joint venture agreements.” If you suspect your spouse owns part of a business, tell your lawyer.
These are just some of the types of documents you need to gather and organize for your divorce. To find out about other important divorce documents, consult with an experienced family law attorney.
The attorneys at O’Neil Wysocki are committed to helping families across Texas resolve their divorce disputes. Call (972) 852-8000 today to set up an appointment with our legal professionals in Dallas.