STEP TWO: TAKE INVENTORY
If you want to know your rights, obligations, etc., you need to know the facts of your case and circumstances. You need to know what the household income is and what the finances are. Keep in mind that documents often "disappear" once a divorce starts, so get ahead and make copies of everything.
You need to make a list of all your assets and liabilities and have on hand the following:
last three years of tax returns;
last three years of all bank statements of any type;
last three years of all retirement statements;
last three years of credit card statements.
Do you know what the monthly expenses are for your household?
The very first thing your attorney will ask you to do is complete a Statement of Net Worth. If you are the "breadwinner" or bill payer in the household you will want to get this done first. Very often the spouse of the "breadwinner" has no idea what the real bills are and will overstate or inflate expenses, causing a huge dispute between lawyers as to what the real expenses are. Take the extra time to get this very important document done quickly and as accurately possible. Very often you may feel like you are "doing all the work" in the divorce but it's better to be the one doing the work correctly than spending thousands in legal fees providing that your spouse's stated expenses are wrong.
Did you have assets before you were married? Did you inherit assets or receive assets as gifts during your marriage? If so, you need to get documentation proving that these assets existed before you were married or obtained during the marriage by gift or inheritance.
See a Statement of Net Worth (click here)