You need a clear picture of where you and your spouse stand financially. One of the primary goals of the divorce process is the make an equitable distribution of marital assets and debts. In order to get your fair share it is imperative that you know what is owned and what is owed. This is a two-step process:
Determine what you own:
Some marital assets are obvious. It is clear that the marital home, any financial accounts and vehicles are assets that should be split equitably. Other not so obvious assets may include artwork, pension plans, inheritances or belongings brought into the marriage.
You should make a list of all possible assets. Gather all documentation regarding each asset including the present value, when and where the asset was purchased and whether it was purchased with joint or separate funds. You will especially want a copy of any recent real estate appraisals. Turn all documentation over to your attorney. Be sure to keep a copy for yourself.
Determine what you owe:
When determining what you owe it does not matter whose name any debts are in. Marital debt will be split based on who is more financially able to pay the debt, not by whose name the debt is in. The easiest way to determine marital debt is to get a copy of your credit report. Any debt you have will be listed on your report. You will also be able to find out if there is any.
Once you determine what debt exists you need to obtain statements on all open accounts with the balance due showing. When you turn this information over to your attorney, don’t forget to keep copies for your files.