When you are faced with a divorce action, whether it’s your choice or not, you will need to get organized in order to get through the legal process and keep your sanity! Keeping records is something we all should do, but somehow this task can easily be overlooked.
One of the first things you will need to do in a divorce proceeding is to prepare a Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure. This document consists of two court documents – a Schedule of Assets and Debts and an Income and Expense Declaration. The Schedule of Assets and Debts is a complete listing of all property, both community (acquired during the course of your marriage) and separate (items acquired prior to marriage or after separation, or during marriage by way of gift or inheritance). You will also be required to provide copies of statements for all financial accounts and copies of vehicle registrations. If you do not keep your bank statements and credit card statements, you can easily download them. You will asked for current fair market values of your assets. You can go online to get many of these values, i.e. Kelley Blue Book, or other vehicle value websites, to obtain the value of your vehicles; contact a local real estate agent or Zillow to obtain a value for real estate. Be as thorough as you can. Provide documentation to back up the information provided. This will assist in agreeing on values to divide property equally between you and your spouse.
The Income and Expense Declaration will state your current income, any deductions from your pay, and your monthly expenses. You will be required to provide copies of your recent pay stubs, or other proof of income, and copies of tax returns for two years prior to separation. Keep your pay stubs in a file where you can easily get to them. Don’t throw them away. You will need verification of your income throughout this process. While these documents may appear difficult to complete, the information provided is vital to the settlement of your case. The more detailed information you can provide, the easier it may be to resolve outstanding issues.
Keep track of all payments made on community debt. Keep a spreadsheet, or download an app that helps track your finances such as Quickbooks, and log the date and amount of each payment you make to creditors. When the time comes to negotiate settlement of your case, you will want to present your spouse with a detailed accounting of all payments made since separation to receive credit for the payments made on community debt. Keeping track along the way is so much simpler than trying to go through receipts or your bank statements to determine what you have paid.
This is not an easy process to go through, but if you can stay organized and take one task at a time, you can continue to live your life and keep your sanity!
Do you want to hear more about the latest information on divorce? If you have questions regarding how to organize divorce information, please contact our office to schedule a consultation. The Law Office of Bawden & Kochis also handle legal issues regarding adoption, annulment, mediation, child custody, child and spousal support as well as pre-marital and post-marital agreements. Telephone (909)792-0222, or email us at [email protected]