The Importance of Documentation in a Family Law Matter
If you want to learn more about essential family law documents, contact Family Law Attorney Angela Larimer at 773-370-0600.
Why is Documentation Important?
Family law matters can be overwhelming and emotionally draining. Keeping organized paperwork on financial matters will assist your lawyer in gaining financial success in your divorce process. No one knows your finances as well as you. If your spouse is in control and you are not as aware, the process allows for something called “discovery” where your lawyer can legally ask questions and issue subpoenas so you do have a clear picture of your assets and liabilities. While divorce is never easy it is important to bring all of your essential documents to your attorney. Your attorney will need information about your marriage and all official documentation. This will include tax returns, proof of income, marital debts, assets, property valuations, and more. One party might make false or inaccurate claims to the court but documents can prove whether they are being truthful or not. It is essential to tell your narrative of what happened to your marriage financially. Here is a list of what information you need to be prepared to provide your attorney with. Typically attorneys ask for the past three years of documentation to ensure your spouse has not moved money out of your marital accounts: Income: This includes documentation from any employment that you or your spouse held an interest in over the past three years —Pay Stubs, Bonuses, Bank Statements, Tax Forms, Tax Returns, Overtime, Commission, Tips, Government Benefits (i.,e., SNAP/TANF), Unemployment, Workers’ Compensation, Social Security (SSI/SSDI), Royalty Income, Rental Income etc… as well as Joint and Individual Financial Accounts bank statements; Taxes and Payroll Deductions: Federal Tax, State Tax, FICA/SSI, Medicare Tax, which are typically listed on your paystubs if you are a W2 employee; Monthly Maintenance Payments: Maintenance, formerly known as alimony, being paid or payable to another party, maintenance being paid under a court order (that may or may not be tax deductible) including child support payments as well as Lawsuits and Claims (Workers’ Compensation, Disability etc…); Monthly Living Expenses: Household expenses or supplies, Mortgage or Rent, Home Equity or Second Mortgage, Real Estate Taxes, Homeowners or Condo Association Dues, Homeowners or Renters Insurance, Gas, Electric, Telephone, Cable Satellite TV, Internet, Water, Garbage Removal, Laundry and Dry Cleaning, House Cleaning Service, Property Maintenance or Repairs, Groceries; Personal and Transportation Expenses: Medical (Doctors visits, Therapy or Counseling, Dental or Orthodontic, Optical, Medicine), Life Insurance, Clothing, Grooming (hair, nails, spa), Gym and Club Memberships, Entertainment (Dining Out and Hobbies), Newspapers or other subscriptions, Gifts, Donations, Vacations and Car Payments, Repairs and Maintenance, Insurance, License, Registration, City Sticker, Gasoline, Taxi, Ubers, Bus, Train Fair or Parking ;
Real Estate and other Assets: Cash and Cash Equivalents, Checking, Savings, Money Market, and other Bank or Credit Union Accounts, Investment Accounts and Securities, Stocks, Bonds, Options, Employee Stock Ownership Plans, Investment/Brokerage Accounts, Mutual Funds, Notes (Secured and Unsecured), Real Estate, FMV and Balance Due, and Vehicles, Cars, Boats, Trailers, Motorcycles or Aircrafts (year, make, model, Fair Market Value and balance due), Retirement Benefits and Compensation, Valuable Collectibles, and Other Personal Property Valued over $500 as well as Transfer or Sale of Assets or Property within the Last Two Years of at Least $1,000; Life Insurance and Health Insurance: Name of Insurance Company, Type of Policy, Death Benefit and Cash Value – Type of Health Insurance (Medical, Dental, Optical), Insurance Company, Deductible(s), Type of Policy, Monthly Cost paid by and Total Number of People Covered; Minor and Dependent Children Expenses: Clothing, Grooming, Education (Books, Fees, Supplies, Tuition, School lunch, Transportation, School Trips or Special Events, Uniforms, Before and After School Care, Tutoring and Summer School, Allowance, Childcare and Sitters, Extracurricular Activities and Sports, Summer and School Break Camps, Vacations (children expenses only), Entertainment (children expenses only) Gifts and Medical (out-of-pocket expenses) Doctors Visits, Therapy and Counseling, Dental and Orthodontia, Optical and Medicine;
Debts: Creditors Name, Nature of Debt, Amount Owed and Monthly Payments ; In addition to the above mentioned documentation it is also important to save anything in writing relating to payments or any other relevant financial documentation. Saving emails, text messages, voicemails are all important to show your attorney.