A divorce can be a document-intensive process as most of the issues that are decided in the proceedings will be evaluated based on the documentation provided by the divorcing parties.
Therefore, an important first step in divorce planning is gathering and organizing the documents your attorney will need to make determinations in the division of assets. Here is a look at the documents your attorney will need if you are considering a high-asset divorce.
One of the first categories of documents your high-asset divorce attorney will ask you for are those related to your income because the court will need to understand your financial positions in considering matters such as alimony, child support and property division.
You will need to supply pay stubs from all sources of employment during the last three years. For those who are self-employed, income tax returns and other tax or business forms related to that income will also be necessary.
You must provide documentation from any business in which either you or your spouse held an interest during the last three years. You will also be asked to provide your spouse’s paycheck stubs, if applicable, for the same time period.
Documentation related to business expenses, such as bank statements, payment receipts and profit and loss statements, should also be supplied.
Your divorce attorney will also ask you for copies of joint or individual tax returns at the state and federal levels for the last three to five years. Be prepared to provide any other information that proves the net worth of you and your spouse, your joint net worth as a couple, or the income of both parties.
Although real estate is a major asset in any type of divorce, there are often multiple properties at stake in a high-asset divorce. In general, any real estate that was purchased during the marriage will be considered marital property and must be divided in the divorce.
When it comes to real estate that was owned separately before the marriage, it may also be a factor if marital funds were used for upkeep, repairs or paying down the mortgage. This means you will need to bring documents showing the legal description of all of the property that you and your spouse own together and separately.
If any of these properties have mortgages, collect current mortgage statements and documents related to any refinances. Also, be prepared to supply documents from the initial purchase of these properties, as well as tax assessor statements.
One area that can be highly contentious in a high-asset divorce is retirement funds. In a divorce, all retirement assets have to be disclosed to the court for the judge to determine how they will be divided as part of the overall property settlement. You will be expected to furnish a copy of all the recent statements from your retirement funds, IRAs, 401Ks, mutual funds and pension funds.
Another financial asset that will be evaluated in your divorce is life insurance, which may be considered marital property or viewed as a type of spousal support. You will need to bring statements related to the life insurance policies you have on your own life as well as that of your spouse or children, regardless of whether these are individual policies or policies obtained through an employer. If any cash balances or loans have been taken out against the policies in question, provide all documentation about those withdrawals or loans.
Joint Financial Accounts
The court will require documentation of all of the financial accounts that both you and your spouse own separately and jointly as part of the full disclosure of assets. Any account that was opened or contributed to throughout the marriage could be considered marital property and must be assessed.
Gather documents related to joint financial accounts such as savings passbooks and certificates, bank statements for the last three years, and statements from investment accounts that are held jointly and separately.
In a high-asset divorce, a couple may own multiple vehicles, including automobiles, boats, snowmobiles, farm equipment and ATVs. You must disclose all of these to the court, for ownership to be determined. This includes the titles and registrations for all of the vehicles that you and your spouse own individually and jointly, as well as documents indicating any current outstanding secured debt on such vehicles.
Many high-asset couples own valuable collections that will be assessed for the division of property, whether it is jewelry, artwork, antiques, furnishings, memberships, intellectual property or digital assets. Be sure to present any documents related to collectibles to your high-asset divorce attorney.
Discuss Your Case with the High-Asset Divorce Attorneys
If you are involved in a divorce in which a high net worth or substantial property is a factor, contact the experienced Maryland high-asset divorce attorneys at SIEGELLAW today to discuss your case and learn how we can help you pursue your goals.