Divorce Preparation Checklist

What personal documents are required to prepare for a divorce?

Below is a checklist of all of the required documents to file for divorce that both parties need to gather and share with one another or with the divorce attorneys:

  • Paystub copies for the past three months. If self-employed, a copy of the Profit and Loss statement for the year so far.
  • A copy of any employment bonuses and/or commissions for the past twelve months.
  • A copy of the parties’ individual federal and state tax returns for the past three years including any W-2s or 1099 forms.
  • A copy of any business federal and state tax returns for the past three years.
  • A copy of the parties’ prenuptial agreement.
  • A copy of any partnership agreements or employment contracts.
  • A copy of the most recent 401(k), Roth or traditional IRA, pension, or other similar retirement plan and/or pension statement.
  • A copy of the statement from the month of marriage if a spouse had a 401(k), Roth, traditional IRA, or other retirement plans prior to the marriage.
  • If a spouse is carrying health insurance for the child, that spouse must obtain information from his or her employer or health insurance carrier showing how much of the monthly premium is just for the child’s medical insurance.
  • If a spouse is carrying dental insurance for the child, that spouse must obtain information from his or her employer or health insurance carrier showing how much of the monthly premium is just for the child’s dental insurance.
  • Documentation showing how much the parties paid for daycare for the past three months.
  • The legal description of any real estate one or both parties own.
  • A copy of any appraisals for the real estate within the last six months.
  • A copy of the past three months of statements for debts not paid off in full each month obtained during the marriage whether the debts are in one or both parties’ names.
  • A copy of any bank statements for the past three months no matter if the accounts are in one or both parties’ names.
  • If a spouse had a retirement account, pension, bank account, or other specific assets prior to the marriage and he or she wants to pursue keeping that specific asset and/or its non-marital value in the divorce, Minnesota law states that the spouse has the burden of proof to show what that asset was worth at the time of marriage. Thus, the law requires that the spouse provide documentation of the statement for the month of marriage showing how much money he or she had in a retirement account, pension, bank account, or other assets at the time of marriage.
  • If a spouse owned real estate prior to the marriage that he or she still owns at the time of the divorce, Minnesota law states that the spouse has the burden of proof to show what the real estate was worth at the time of marriage, what the mortgage was at the time of marriage, what the real estate is worth today and what the mortgage balance is today in order to determine what the real estate value is during the marriage. The documentation for these four balances must be available at the time of the divorce.
  • A market analysis or appraisal for any real estate the parties currently own.
  • The valuation of any cars, SUVs, trucks, motorcycles, and other vehicles using www.nada.com or www.kelleybluebook.com.Follow the link for used consumer vehicles. Specify the year, make, model, and features of the vehicles and print off the valuations.
  • Copies of documentation for stocks, bonds, and cryptocurrencies.

What legal forms are required in Minnesota to file for divorce?

I help clients complete the numerous documents that need to be filled out and filed with the court and provided to the other spouse. Some of the forms are one or two pages in length. Some are at least twenty pages long. For the past 19 years, I have been assisting clients with completing the forms in the most cost and time-effective way in order to assist them with completing the divorce in the easiest way possible.

Can I fill out divorce papers without a lawyer?

Yes, but the fill-in-the-blank, DYI divorce documents created by the Minnesota Supreme Court are “one size fits all” in that there are legal issues the documents do not address which can cause an unfair division of debts and assets. Minnesota law only allows the parties one year in most circumstances to correct those errors. I have had clients who became aware of the errors after the one-year mark and could not fix them. My clients do not have to worry about paperwork because the correct documents are completed so these errors do not occur.

Are divorce documents made public? Yes.

Most divorce documents are public. For example, in the final court order the judge signs detailing who got what sort of child custody and parenting time, and debts and assets are public. Some newspapers publish a list of people who divorced in the past 30 days because their names are part of the public record. The courts do not disclose the parties’ Social Security Numbers, account numbers for bank accounts, credit cards, and mortgages, and any medical, chemical dependency treatment, or therapy records.

If you’d like assistance filling out your divorce documents, contact divorce attorney, Jessica Sterle.