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What Documents Will I Need to Gather During My Divorce?

 Posted on February 06, 2024 in Divorce

Blog ImageGoing through a divorce is an emotionally challenging process, and it can be hard to put interpersonal disputes aside and focus on the practical aspects of ending your marriage. However, it is crucial to address these issues correctly, since this will ensure that you will be able to move forward successfully after your marriage has been terminated. During the divorce process, it is important to pay careful attention to the financial aspects of your marriage. To ensure that you will be able to address these issues correctly, you will need to gather a variety of documents and organize them properly. 

At Weiss-Kunz & Oliver, LLC, our attorneys work with our clients to address their legal and financial concerns as they work to dissolve their marriages. We can provide guidance on what types of information will need to be gathered, the methods that may be used to obtain financial documents and other relevant information, and the steps to follow when negotiating agreements. As you prepare for your divorce, we can help ensure that you will have a clear picture of your financial situation, ensuring that we can build a strong case on your behalf.

Gathering Financial Information

Before you can begin making decisions about the ownership of your marital property, you will need to make sure you fully understand the extent of the property you own, as well as the income earned by you and your spouse and the debts you owe together or separately. Information about your property, income, and finances will not only be crucial in ensuring that you can divide your marital property fairly and equitably, but it will also inform decisions about child support and spousal support

The documents you will need to gather may include information related to:

  • Income: You can collect pay stubs and W-2 forms from employers to ensure that you can document the income earned by both you and your spouse. If either of you is self-employed or earns income from investments, you may need to gather 1099 forms or other documents that report payments received. If either you or your spouse receive supplemental income in the form of bonuses or commissions, or if one of you is a corporate officer who earns complex forms of executive compensation such as deferred income, you will need to gather statements or records reflecting this additional income.

  • Bank Accounts: To fully understand how much money you have saved, you can gather statements for all bank accounts held individually or jointly. These may include checking accounts, savings accounts, money market accounts, certificates of deposit (CDs), and any other monetary assets. Even if one or both of you have separate accounts, it will be important to document the funds you have saved, determine whether they may be classified as marital property or separate property, and establish the financial resources that will be available to each party.

  • Credit Cards and Debts: You will need to compile statements for all credit cards in your name or joint accounts with your spouse. Information about other types of loans will also be important, and you will need to document mortgages, auto loans, student loans, lines of credit, or any other loans that you or your spouse have taken out. In general, debts acquired during your marriage may be divided between you and your spouse, even if purchases were made on a credit card in one spouse’s name. 

  • Investments and Retirement Accounts: You should obtain statements for brokerage accounts including stocks, bonds, mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and any other investment vehicles. Gather information regarding retirement plans like 401Ks, individual retirement accounts (IRAs), pensions, or annuities. Understanding the value of these investments will be crucial, and you will need to determine how they may be divided between you and your spouse.

  • Real Estate: You can obtain copies of deeds and mortgage statements for all properties owned by you or your spouse, including your marital home as well as vacation homes, rental properties, or timeshares. It may be necessary to perform appraisals of these properties to determine their current value.

  • Vehicle Titles: Information about any vehicles you own, including cars, motorcycles, boats, or recreational vehicles, will be important. As with other types of property, vehicles purchased or acquired during your marriage will be considered marital property. You will need to understand the equity owned in vehicles and the amounts that remain to be paid on any loans.

  • Business Records: If either you or your spouse owns a business, you will need to gather detailed financial information about the value of business assets, the revenue earned by a business, and projections for future growth. Relevant records may include profit/loss statements, balance sheets, bank statements related to the business accounts, and other financial data. You will likely need to perform a business valuation to ensure that you understand what the business is worth and determine how business assets may be divided.

  • Valuables: If you or your spouse own high-value items such as jewelry, artwork, or collectibles, you may need to obtain appraisals to ensure that you understand what these assets are worth and how ownership of these items will affect the property division process.

  • Tax Returns: To ensure that you have all the information you need about your family’s financial situation, you can gather copies of state and federal tax returns filed during your marriage. This can provide documentation of the income earned by you and your spouse, the credits or deductions you have taken, the taxes you may owe, and any payment plans that have been set up to address unpaid taxes.

The Importance of Comprehensive Financial Disclosures

During your divorce, you and your spouse are required to provide comprehensive financial disclosures to ensure transparency and fairness throughout the proceedings. You will be required to disclose assets, liabilities, income, expenses, tax returns, bank statements, investment accounts, retirement funds, properties owned, and any other relevant financial information that may influence property division or financial support determinations.

These financial disclosures are essential, because they allow both parties to have an accurate understanding of each other's finances. They facilitate negotiations by helping determine what constitutes marital property or separate property while also providing insights into potential sources of income that could influence spousal support or child support calculations.

The Discovery Process

After a divorce is initiated, you, your spouse, and your attorneys will engage in discovery, which involves the gathering of all relevant financial information. The goal of discovery is to ensure that both sides have a complete understanding of each other's financial situation. In addition to disclosures made by each party, relevant information may be obtained through a variety of methods, including:

  • Interrogatories: These are written questions directed at the opposing party regarding financial information or other aspects of a couple’s marriage. After receiving a request, a spouse will typically be required to provide a response within a specific time frame.

  • Requests for Production of Documents: These are similar to interrogatories, but they are specifically focused on requesting certain documents related to income, assets, debts, etc.

  • Depositions: In some cases, spouses may be required to give oral testimony under oath in front of an attorney who asks questions regarding their finances or other divorce-related issues. A court reporter transcribes the conversation verbatim, and it may be admissible in court if necessary.

  • Subpoenas: An attorney can issue requests for certain parties to turn over financial information. These orders are legally binding, and they may be submitted to outside parties such as financial institutions or employers.

Evaluating Marital Assets for Equitable Distribution

To ensure a fair distribution of marital assets, it is necessary to identify all these assets accurately. The information gathered during the discovery process helps establish which assets should be subject to distribution between you and your spouse.

Determining ownership rights over specific properties such as homes or businesses may require investigation into when those properties were acquired and whether they qualify as separate or marital property. Appraisals or other financial evaluations may be performed to ensure that the value of all assets is understood by both parties.

Additionally, information obtained during the discovery process may uncover assets that a has attempted to conceal. Financial professionals such as forensic accountants can analyze financial records and trace any undisclosed assets, ensuring that all marital assets can be considered correctly during the property division process.

Income and Support Calculations

Spousal maintenance (also known as alimony) and child support are critical aspects of a divorce that may be affected by information gathered during discovery. The income of both spouses will play a significant role in determining whether spousal support is warranted and how much should be awarded. Both spouses’ incomes will also be considered when calculating child support obligations that will ensure that children’s ongoing needs are met.

The information gathered during the discovery process helps establish each party's earning capacity, including their employment history, education level, training programs attended, or any other relevant factors that may affect their current income and their future earning potential. Financial disclosures can also help determine if there are additional sources of income beyond regular employment wages. These may include rental properties, investment income, or royalties from intellectual property rights, which may be considered when calculating financial support obligations.

Addressing Financial Concerns and Reaching Agreements

After obtaining all relevant information and putting together a complete picture of your family’s financial situation, you can work to resolve issues related to the division of marital property and the support obligations that will apply for either party. Options for addressing these issues include:


You, your spouses, and your respective attorneys may engage in discussions and attempt to reach agreements on how to divide assets and determine support payments. Negotiation allows for open communication, and it provides flexibility in crafting a divorce settlement that will be satisfactory for both parties.

In some cases, negotiation can be relatively straightforward if you and your spouse are willing to cooperate and compromise. However, negotiations can be difficult if your divorce involves conflict, and you may need to use other methods to reach agreements.


If direct negotiation does not lead to an agreement, or if there are complex financial issues involved, mediation may be another viable option. Mediation involves hiring a neutral third-party mediator who will help facilitate productive discussions.

The mediator will guide conversations between you and your spouse while ensuring that each party has an opportunity to express their needs and concerns. They can assist in coming up with creative solutions that take into account both parties' interests while keeping legal requirements in mind.

Mediation offers several benefits—it promotes cooperation rather than adversarial behavior, saves time and money compared with courtroom proceedings, encourages more amicable post-divorce relationships, and allows for greater control over decision-making. It is also completely confidential.

Collaborative Law:

In a collaborative divorce, each spouse will be represented by an attorney, and both parties will commit to resolving financial matters and other divorce-related issues outside of court. This approach fosters a cooperative environment in which the parties work together with their attorneys to reach agreements through open communication and negotiation.

Collaborative law may also involve additional professionals such as financial advisors, accountants, or child specialists, and these experts can provide guidance on how certain issues may be resolved. The goal of collaborative divorce is to negotiate a settlement that both parties will be satisfied with.


While negotiation, mediation, or collaborative law are generally preferred methods for reaching divorce settlements, there are some cases where litigation may become necessary. Litigation involves presenting your case before a judge who will make binding decisions about how the outstanding issues will be resolved.

Litigation may be required if one party is uncooperative or unwilling to negotiate in good faith. It can also be necessary when complex legal and financial issues need to be resolved or if there are concerns about hidden assets or acts of misconduct by a spouse.

Contact Our Elmhurst Property Division Attorneys

If you are going through a divorce and want to make sure financial issues will be addressed correctly, it is crucial to seek guidance from an experienced divorce attorney. At Weiss-Kunz & Oliver, LLC, our DuPage County divorce lawyers will help you gather financial documents and other information, ensuring that you have a complete picture of the issues that will need to be addressed in your case. We will advocate for your interests, helping you achieve an outcome that will allow you to move forward successfully after your marriage has been dissolved. Contact us at 312-605-4041 to set up a consultation today.

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