Preparing for the financial side of divorce

>The emotional issues associated with divorce often overshadow realistic consideration of the financial implications of the breakup of a marriage. Unfortunately, this reality may put one or both parties at financial risk because markets are always changing and financial records can become stale or lost. It is therefore important to address the financial issues early in the divorce proceeding.

First step: Preparing Financial affidavit–Form 813

In Vermont, one of the first forms a divorce client will be asked to complete is the Form 813 which provides a summary of his or her current financial condition including a listing of assets, liabilities, and a schedule of monthly income and expenses. This is a useful form that will help you determine what information the court believes is important in deciding the financial issues in your divorce. The 813 form is available online at The information provided on the 813 will form the basis for discussion about the financial issues to be addressed in the divorce proceeding, but it is also a document that will become part of the record with the court. While the court does not require that the information on the 813 form be supported by documents, it is best practice to gather the documents that support the information, and keep it with your copy of the 813 form. In that way you can show your lawyer and the court how you arrived at the information on the form.

Step 2: Gathering records

The following are some of the financial records that you should gather and organize as soon as practicable in a divorce proceeding. They include documents that will support the 813 form as well as additional documents that will help you make your case in court:

  • Individual Federal Tax Returns for at least 2 years including individual W-2’s.
  • Copies of employment contracts.
  • Tax returns for corporations or LLC’s (owned or partially owned by you) for at least 2 years
  • Financial Statements for corporations, LLC’s, and/or sole proprietorships owned or partially owned by you for at least 2 years. These include income statements and balance sheets.

Bank accounts (including checking, savings, and money market accounts)

  • Copies of signature cards
  • Copies of check registers for past 2 years
  • Copies of monthly statements for at least 2 years
  • Copies of canceled checks for at least 2 years
  • Copies of all deposits including deposited items for 2 years

Investment Accounts

  • Copies of investment account contracts
  • Copies of monthly statements for at least 2 years together with related check registers
  • Copies of canceled checks for at least 2 years
  • Copies of all deposits and deposited items for last 2 years.

Loan documents

  • Copies on notes, mortgages, security agreements, and loan balances (can be obtained from your financial institution) for all outstanding loans.

Real Estate documents and information

  • 911 address
  • Current Deed
  • Valuation: listers’ cards or appraisals
  • Mortgage loan documents including notes, mortgage deeds, and bank statements showing current balances.

Retirement Accounts and social Security Entitlement

  • IRA, 401K, 403b, statements covering last 2 years and related contracts showing ownership and beneficiary information
  • Defined benefit retirement plans
  • Plan documents showing ownership and beneficiaries
  • Most recent statement showing amount of entitlement and payment options
  • Copies of Social Security Statements showing entitlement amounts, date of retirement, etc.

Credit Cards

  • Copies of monthly statements for past two years on all credit card account Insurance/Annuities Policies
  • Copies of contracts showing ownership and beneficiaries
  • Statement of cash surrender value.

While the task of gathering all of this information seems daunting, taking the time to do so early will facilitate the divorce proceeding and help control costs.

At our law firm, our motto is “Information is power”. That should be your motto when you are going through a divorce.