Before meeting with a New Jersey family law attorney, individuals going through a divorce should begin compiling documents that will be used to determine the division of assets between spouses. Since all income and debt incurred during marriage is considered marital property, both spouses have a right to know what the other spouse was earning or spending during the marriage. One of the first documents that a person should begin compiling is tax returns, both state and federal, whether the person filed jointly or separately.
Individuals should also be prepared to produce paycheck stubs from the past three years to their ex-spouse, so it might be a good idea to ask former employers for copies of any paycheck stubs if someone no longer has them in his or her possession. If either spouse is self-employed, that spouse should also compile documents reflecting business expenses and profitability, such as financial statements, profit and loss statements, and bank statements, among other things.
Real estate property is typically one of the biggest assets in a marriage, and documents showing mortgages owed, amounts paid, and the legal description of properties should be within a person’s possession when going through a divorce, even if the property was not jointly owned. The same applies to bank statements from separate and joint accounts.
Pension funds and other retirement fund contributions made during marriage are also considered marital property, so statements reflecting the amounts contributed to these funds will also need to be reviewed. However, this does not mean that a person is required to keep an ex-spouse as a beneficiary on something like a 401(k) after a divorce, so it is good to review named beneficiaries for retirement funds and insurance policies in case a person wants to make changes. A family law attorney can help clients determine which assets are subject to division and which are separate property.