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Collect and secure these documents before filing for divorce

Have you made up your mind about filing for divorce? If you have, one of the first things you will want to do is collect critical documents that will play a big role when working through the divorce.

Once you meet with your attorney, they will request copies of these documents. The information contained in these files will provide a clear picture of what you and your attorney will be working with when it comes to financial and property matters.

Finalizing a divorce can be a demanding process. The more you have your documents in order, the less stress you may have to deal with. Here is what you need to find and have on hand.

Documents that show income

Collect pay stubs from all places of employment that go back one year. If you can, try to also collect your spouse's pay stubs. Gather copies of your joint or individual tax returns for both state and federal that go back three years. If either of you are self-employed, you should collect all documents that can relate to income or expenses such as, receipts, financial statements and profit and loss statement.

Joint or individual financial and insurance documents

Bank statements that are from both joint and individual accounts from the past two years should be collected. Locate any statements from investment accounts that show updated information. Also, have current life insurance policies that include your children available. Provide information if the policy has a cash balance or a loan against it.

Debt information

Create an itemized list that shows all secured and unsecured marital debts. This can include the mortgage, credit cards, medical bills and loans.

Retirement and pension funds

Get the most updated copy of your retirement account statement from a 401k, mutual fund or an IRA.

Documentation for automobiles and real estate

You should find copies of the title and registration for any vehicles you own. This can include cars, boats, snowmobiles and ATV's. This will also include any farm equipment you may own. Also, document any outstanding debts or remaining payments you have on any of these items. If you purchased real estate during your marriage, get the documents of the purchase and show any income or mortgage payments you are making for the property.

The decision to pursue a divorce may have been a big step for you, but you may find the real work is just beginning. This decision does not come without responsibility, get a head start on the journey by making a concerted effort to gather all the critical financial documents from the marriage right away.

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