Important Documents For Your Divorce
Divorce documents are a vital part of your case when you file for divorce, and the outcome of your divorce rests largely on their submission in court. Documentation of your spouse’s income, for example, is necessary for establishing child support and/or alimony payments. Titles and deeds are essential for determining a division of marital assets, and credit card statements and bills tell the tale of debts that must be divided. Coming into your initial divorce consultation with your divorce documents in hand can give your Edwardsville, IL, divorce attorney a better picture of your situation and the road ahead. So, which documents do you need?
Basic Divorce Documents
There are a few documents that are required across all divorce cases, including your marriage license and birth certificates for your children. You’ll also need copies of any prenuptial/premarital agreements. If you have any court documents related to your divorce proceedings, then bring those to your attorney too.
Documents for Child Custody and Parenting Time
In Illinois, judges make decisions about child custody and parenting time based primarily on the best interests of the child. If you are seeking physical custody of your child and your spouse is contesting it, you may need to show proof that you are fit and, depending on the circumstances, that your spouse is not fit for the role. If this is the case, documents related to your fitness as a parent (or your spouse’s lack thereof) are helpful. Some parents showcase a healthy relationship between them and their children with home videos and photos of outings and statements from parties who know their family’s situation. Proof of non-fitness of another parent often includes police reports and arrest records.
Documents for Child Support
Like all states, the state of Illinois expects both parents to provide support for their common children. During the divorce process, information regarding income is used to determine each parent’s responsibility to their children. Financial data is required for this determination. Pay stubs, 1099 forms, tax returns and transcripts, and personal financial documents are needed to show each parent’s particular financial situation and determine their contribution toward the child’s needs.
Documents for Spousal Support or Alimony
In Illinois, temporary alimony, “rehabilitative maintenance” support payments, and permanent alimony are all on the table when filing for divorce. Temporary alimony allows a supported spouse to maintain their standard of living while the divorce is in the courts. Ongoing short- or long-term alimony or rehabilitative maintenance is determined in the final divorce decree. Permanent alimony payments are sometimes ordered if one spouse is unable to work due to age or illness. Like with child support determination, financial statements, pay stubs, tax returns, and other financial documents are needed to determine the amount of alimony to be paid and for how long.
Documents for Property Division
The state of Illinois requires an equitable division of property among divorcing couples. This means that property is not necessarily divided 50/50; many divorce decrees call for a 70/30 or 60/40 split, and some even allocate all marital property to just one spouse. There are no fewer than 12 factors that come into play when judges decide who gets what and how much, including each party’s contribution to the asset, the property’s valuation, how long the marriage lasted, whether the property is needed for rearing children (such as a home), and the economic circumstances of each spouse, among others. The court may need to see real estate deeds, mortgage notes, bank account statements, proof of ownership for personal property, and retirement account documentation for 401(k) plans and pensions. Inversely, document debts with final bills and account statements to help the judge in your case to determine how to divvy up debt obligations for each party.
Proof of Living Separately
In the state of Illinois, couples seeking divorce must live separately for at least six months prior to beginning the divorce process. In some instances, however, a waiver of this rule is granted, provided both parties come to a mutual agreement. For example, the spouses may share a residence but need proof that they lived as roommates and independently of one another, not as a married couple. A competent divorce attorney can provide examples of evidentiary proof to be used if such a waiver is sought.
Electronic or Paper Documents?
For many divorcing couples, it’s sometimes a race to get to the required documents first. If you and your partner are going through a hostile divorce, this means that a hard, or paper copy, of the documents you need, may not be available to you. As a workaround, electronic documents are admissible in court proceedings too, including bank statements or printouts from financial management software, such as Quickbooks. Most family law attorneys actually prefer electronic divorce documents over paper ones anyway.