In many marriages these days, spouses share everything from joint bank accounts to the passwords that protect these accounts. Additionally, spouses often share passwords to each other's separate accounts, including wireless networks, email, banking accounts, utilities, social media, etc. Even when a spouse doesn't know a password, typically he or she knows enough to acquire the password via email or by answering standard security questions, such as city of birth or mother's maiden name. When a separation and/or divorce appears likely, it is very wise to change passwords and secure all money and other assets to protect them from being spent or otherwise encumbered without your permission. From a financial perspective, such protection begins by identifying assests, debts, income, and monthly/quarterly/annual expenses.
GATHER FINANCIAL DOCUMENTS. This is the first step, and then you'll need to take steps to safeguard these financial accounts. I have found that clients who do not proactively educate and protect themselves early in the process sometime suffer from costly technological and legal missteps later on. Newly separated clients are often overwhelmed by the quantity of detailed information lawyers need, but Wake County requires the parties to exchange fiancial documents. Some clients can be caught off guard when they do not relize that their failure to answer questions completely and accurately about their finances can cause them to receive less support from the court.
WHAT DOCUMENTS? Here is a list of documents and records you need to gather:
1. tax returns, including schedules and attachments for the last 3-5 years
2. if you or your spouse own a business, current financial statements of the business (balance sheet and profit and loss statement, including general ledger and detailed depreciation schedule with purchase price and date for all assets
3. bank statements for every account for the last year
4. credit card statements for all credit cards for the last year
5. current investment statements for every account
6. current retirement statements for every account
7. list of all real estate you and/or your spouse own with copies of any appraisal done within the last year
8. copy of current mortgage statement(s) for all real estate
9. closing documents and other paperwork related to any purchases, sales or refinances in the last three years
10. Kelley Blue Book value of all cars, boats, trailers, motorcycles, etc.
11. copies of whole-life insurance policies
12. credit reports for both parties
13. a list of any other oustanding debts with supporting documents (student loans, line of credit, etc.)
14. financial statements provided to banks in the last year (if applicable)
Many of the above-listed documents can be obtained online!