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10 critical documents to collect before a divorce

One of the most difficult adjustments to make during a divorce is shifting your thinking from "we" to "I" when it comes to protection. You may have been thinking in terms of what is best for your family or your marriage for so long that prioritizing your own well-being may not come naturally.

However, it can be crucial to start thinking this way if your spouse files for divorce or if you plan to file for divorce, because at the end of the process, you want to feel confident in your individual situation. One of the best ways to protect yourself is by collecting critical documentation as soon as possible.

Most types of documentation to collect when divorcing will be used for property division purposes. The information allows parties to verify accounting, categorize assets and assess values. As such, you want to be sure you have as much up-to-date information as possible.

This includes:

  1. Bank statements and account information
  2. Tax returns for recent years
  3. A copy of a prenuptial agreement
  4. Credit card statements
  5. List of monthly bills and expenses
  6. A list of personal property (electronics, furniture, etc.)
  7. Pay stubs for both parties
  8. Investment information
  9. List of child-related expenses
  10. Wills and other estate planning documents

Unfortunately, the fact is that finding all this information can be a challenge, particularly if your spouse is the person who manages finances and legal paperwork. However, it is not impossible. You can talk to an attorney about ways you can collect, request and access this information.

Whether a divorce is amicable or contentious, understand that you aren't necessarily playing on the same team as your spouse anymore. You need to take steps that protect your financial future and well-being, and this starts with securing the information you need to pursue a fair settlement.

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