Divorce Checklist: Financial Paperwork You Need for Divorce

Important Documents for Divorce

A couple signs a document as a man looks on.

mixetto/Getty Images

Even the most amicable divorce can feel messy and stressful. It’s mentally and emotionally draining, not to mention time-consuming considering the amount of paperwork involved. Especially if you have shared assets and debt to divvy up. That said, you can minimize the stress of a divorce by being prepared. 

If you’re planning to divorce your spouse, it’s a good idea to gather all the needed documentation ahead of time. That includes personal documents, financial statements, contracts, insurance policies, and more. Don’t worry: It might sound intimidating, but with this comprehensive checklist, you’ll know exactly what you need.

Key Takeaways

  • Gathering the necessary documentation ahead of time will help streamline the divorce process.
  • A divorce requires extensive paperwork, including documents related to finances, shared assets, debts, and any children.
  • There are a number of documents you can expect to present when going through a divorce. However, it’s a good idea to consult with a divorce attorney regarding the exact paperwork and forms required.

Personal Documents

The first step in gathering paperwork for a divorce is tracking down all of your documents that show certain personal information. Some of these details are required by divorce courts, while others may aid in determining certain agreements related to the split. 

Information and documents might include:

  • Legal name
  • Contact information, including mailing address, phone numbers, and email addresses
  • Date of birth
  • Social Security number
  • Employer name and contact information 
  • Birth and death certificates
  • Marriage license
  • Citizenship papers
  • Membership cards or documents that show you’re a member of a country club, health club/spa, key club, private club, association, or fraternal group organization during the last five years of the marriage 
  • Judgments and pleadings in court cases that you were a plaintiff or defendant in during the marriage 
  • Medical records if one of the spouses has a severe condition that could require further consideration when determining support
  • Police records if one of the spouses has a criminal history

General Financial Documents

One of the most important and complex components of a divorce is documenting and dividing finances, including bank accounts, investments, and shared property. You’ll need to provide enough paperwork to give a comprehensive view of your financial situation as a married couple. This paperwork could include:

  • Income documentation, including pay stubs and any other evidence of other income (investment property, rental/lease agreements, dividends, interest, royalties, lottery winnings, etc.) since the filing of your last tax return
  • Employment records, including any fringe benefits you receive such as vehicles, travel expenses, private aircraft, boats, apartments/homes, entertainment, country club memberships, health club or spa memberships, educational expenses, vacation pay, severance pay, personal living expenses, etc.
  • Banking information, including all monthly bank statements, passbooks, check registers, deposit slips, canceled checks, and bank charge notices
  • Brokerage statements 
  • Certificates for any other stocks, bonds, and mutual funds
  • Retirement account statements, including pension, 401(k), 403(b), 412(e)(3), 457, military, IRA, Roth IRA, SEP-IRA, Keogh, etc.
  • Income tax forms for federal, state, and local governments, including W-2, 1099, and K-1 forms for the last five years
  • Wills and trust agreements, including any powers of attorney
  • Life insurance policies
  • General insurance policies, including annuities, health, accident, disability, casualty, motor vehicle, and property liability
  • List of safe deposit box contents 
  • Business documents, such as partnership agreements, tax returns, stock redemption/buy-sell agreements, and financial statements.


If you don’t have your own bank account or credit card, it may be wise to open one now before the divorce is finalized.

Shared Assets

Assets that were brought into your marriage individually, as well as assets that were accumulated together as spouses, will need to be redistributed when you divorce. How those assets will be split depends on whether you have any preexisting agreements in place and which state you reside in. Documents related to that may include:

  • All financing documents and titles to motor vehicles owned during the last five years of marriage, including cars, airplanes, boats, etc. 
  • Real property deeds, purchase agreements, mortgages, notes, rental/lease agreements, appraisals, and all expenses associated with any property you own
  • Sale and option agreements on any real estate holdings 
  • Personal property documents, including invoices, contracts, insurance policies, and appraisals on all personal property such as furniture, fixtures, jewelry, artwork, furnishings, furs, equipment, antiques, and any type of collections (coin, stamps, gold, etc.)
  • Statements for any joint financial accounts not included in the previous section


Dividing up debt is another important step in a divorce, and the exact process depends on the specific type of debt it is. So it’s important to show proof of all outstanding debts owed to you or by you, including anything you cosigned.

  • Mortgages
  • Personal loans
  • Credit cards
  • Student loans
  • Property liens
  • Tax debt
  • Promissory notes 
  • Lawsuits pending or previously filed in any court
  • Loan applications made within the last five years


If you aren’t sure where to find all of your outstanding loans and credit accounts, you can check your credit reports for this information. Visit annualcreditreport.com to get a free copy of your report from each of the three major credit bureaus.

Child Care Documents

Not all divorcing couples have children. However, those that do face additional challenges when it comes to custody and parenting agreements. It’s important that your legal counsel and the courts have a full picture of the children you share with your spouse, if any. They will need:

  • Legal name of child
  • Contact information including address, phone numbers, and email addresses of children, where applicable
  • Child’s date of birth
  • Employer name and contact information, if the child works
  • Health insurance policies
  • Birth certificate
  • Social Security card
  • School immunization records
  • Names of new and old doctors with address and telephone numbers

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What documents do you need to file for divorce?

The divorce process requires extensive documentation. In addition to specific forms required by the courts, you’ll also need to present financial statements and forms, contracts and agreements, as well as any personal documentation (contact information, Social Security cards, birth certificates, etc.) for yourself and any children involved. It’s best to consult with a divorce attorney regarding the exact paperwork required.

How are finances split in divorce?

The way finances are split in a divorce depends on any prenuptial or postnuptial agreement in place, as well as your state of residence. For example, if you live in one of the nine community property states (Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin), assets acquired during the marriage by either spouse are considered joint marital assets and are generally divided equally in a divorce.

How long does a divorce take?

The time it takes to complete the divorce process depends on many factors, including the complexity of each spouse’s financial situation, whether any children are involved and how agreeable each spouse is to the proposed terms. On average, a divorce without children takes 11 months, while a divorce with children takes 15 months. 

Was this page helpful?
The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Fidelity. "Divorce Document Checklist."

  2. Bedrock Divorce Advisors. "Bedrock Divorce Advisors, LLC."

  3. Lawyers.com. "The Cost and Duration of Divorce."

Related Articles