Regardless of whether a divorce comes as a surprise to you or you are the spouse initiating a divorce, there are certain things you can do to streamline the process, particularly with regard to finances. Most importantly, you should begin gathering documents.

In order to prepare for a divorce in Bucks County, you will need recent copies of all of your joint and individual account statements such as bank accounts, retirement accounts, and investment accounts. You will also need to provide your matrimonial lawyer with copies of your personal income tax returns for the last three years as well as the most recent employment paystubs for both you and your spouse. If you or your spouse own a business, it is also helpful to have copies of business tax returns and financial statements for the past several years. If either of you own real property such as a house, commercial building or a vacation property, you should have an idea of the approximate fair market value (FMV) of the property. You will need to provide your divorce lawyer with the FMV and the balance of any outstanding mortgages or loans against each property.

In addition to gathering information about your assets, you will also want to obtain information as to any debts. Ask yourself the following questions and be prepared with answers:

  • What credit cards are outstanding in either your name or your spouse's name? What are the current balances?
  • Are there any other debts such as automobile loans or private loans that need to be addressed during the divorce process?
  • Are there outstanding school loans that need to be addressed?

If you do not have this information readily available, it may be helpful to contact one of the three major credit reporting agencies to obtain a copy of your credit report.

It is also helpful to have information related to any health insurance policies or life insurance policies that are in your name or your spouse's name. If either of you is the beneficiary of any trusts, you should obtain the trust documents. If you and your spouse entered into a prenuptial agreement or a post nuptial agreement, a copy of that document will be critical to the divorce process.

While the financial aspects of a divorce can be overwhelming, the more information you can obtain prior to or early in the divorce process, the better off you will be. Such information will give your family law attorney the ability to provide you with thorough and specific advice and recommendations based on your unique financial situation.