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Although I believe strongly that the collaborative process is the right approach for nearly all divorcing couples, I can understand that when you first begin thinking about divorce, the gut reaction is going to be to circle the wagons and get ready.  That is why I have included photocopying the financial records as tip #4.  In order to get a good handle on where you are financially, you must have copies of your financial records.

As you begin to gather and cull through all the important financial documents, you should make two copies of each of them. One is for you and one is for your lawyer.  Keep your copy in a divorce notebook or file folder that cannot be found by your spouse (yet – if you go through with the collaborative process, everything will be disclosed).  It is important to keep a list of what documents you have, what documents you still need, and which of them you have given to your lawyer.

  • Each case and each lawyer may require a unique set of documents.  In North Carolina, some of the most common documents required under the local rules for Wake County include the following:
  • Income tax returns (including business tax returns and K-1’s) for at least 2 years, including W-2’s and all schedules and attachments;
  • Last three months pay stubs that show year to date income;
  • Documents reflecting expenses for current child care and payments made, healthcare insurance and payments made, and uninsured medical expenses paid – if reimbursement is sought; and,
  • Statements for the last six (6) months for any bank account or credit card (including those for a business) that you or your spouse have an interest in.

I also recommend that you collect the following:

  • A list of all account names, numbers, contact numbers/websites (and passwords) of the bank, type of account, and current balance;
  • Deeds for all real estate owned by either party individually or jointly (In North Carolina counties, you can obtain these records online); and,
  • Statements from the past 12 months from any investment accounts, retirement accounts, pensions, etc. that you or your spouse have an interest in.

The information in this post was prepared in part with information originally posted on the Alabama Family Law Blog.