Well Documented: Divorce Paperwork 101

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If you and your spouse are talking about calling it quits as a couple, you should know that divorce can be a stressful and complicated undertaking. When you consider that your act will legally separate two people who's lives have been intertwined for some time, you can appreciate that there is more to it than just a few documents to sign. Because of the potential for complexity, a divorce attorney is critical. Your attorney, however, can make quicker headway toward a successful resolution if you are prepared. Read on to learn more about the paperwork involved in a divorce and what you can do to make the process smoother.

A Legal Separation Agreement

You and your spouse can part ways without having to file any paperwork, but doing so will help ensure that you have some major issues already covered before you file for divorce. A good legal separation agreement will include provisions dealing with:

1. The division of debt: Regardless of whether you live in a community property state or an equitable distribution state, you will need to place a line in the sand when it comes to jointly held credit card and other debt. Make sure that you don't end up being held responsible for any debts accrued by your spouse after the date of the separation and agreement.

2. The division of property: If you already know who will keep the family home and other property, this issue can be addressed in the agreement.

3. Spousal support: Also known as alimony, this financial support option can help ensure that a spouse who has given up their careers or education opportunities can get some marital equity.

4. Child visitation: You can spell out a detailed visitation schedule that could set the stage for a later agreements.

5. Child support: Your minor child has a legal right to support from the moment you begin living apart, so make sure that you get this important financial support benefit started immediately.

A Parenting Plan

Also referred to as a child custody plan, this important divorce issue deserves some attention as soon as possible during your separation period. The big issue will be the type of custody you feel is best for your family (shared custody or joint custody). In the event you decide on joint custody, one of you must act as the physical custodian of the child for the vast majority of time. Any of the issues listed below that can be worked out ahead of time will save time later:

  • A visitation schedule, including holidays and vacations.
  • Parental responsibility for paying for items like education, recreation, sports, classes, clothing, transportation, and more.
  • Who will step in to care for the child when emergencies occur.

Tax Returns: At the least the last two or three years of returns will be needed. You can, if necessary, request a copy from the IRS.

Miscellaneous Financial Documents: Mortgages, titles, deeds, loans, life insurance, health care insurance, wills, etc. will be required so your attorney can get an accurate picture of your assets.

For more information about the important documents you should prepare ahead of time and that you should have on hand, speak to your divorce attorney. Contact a firm like The VK Law Firm to get started.