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DIVORCE 101

Overview


Part of divorce and legal separation is dealing with your financial affairs. Montana law calls for the “equitable division” of assets and debts. Other financial aspects can include maintenance and child support. At the end of the process, you should have your own financial plan for how you will live after the legal proceedings are over.
        In order to represent you properly, Corbin needs accurate and complete information from you. Unless you and your spouse/opponent agree otherwise, the law requires both you and your spouse/opponent to disclose to each other all of your respective assets and debts as well as your income and expenses. FAILURE TO DISCLOSE AN ASSET OR DEBT MAY HAVE SERIOUS CONSEQUENCES TO YOU. For example, the failure to disclose an asset may result in your spouse/opponent receiving that asset in addition to an otherwise fair division of property. Failure to disclose a debt may mean that you have to pay the debt by yourself, without consideration of the otherwise fair division of debts. There are some exceptions under the law, but it is critical that you disclose everything to Corbin.

COMPILING INFORMATION

Financial Information

  • The first step is for you to gather information about all of your own financial affairs, and your spouse/opponent’s.

  • Then place a value on what you have. Valuation can start with your own personal opinion of value which will be adequate for filling out these forms at the beginning. But later, as the case progresses, you may well wish to get the opinion of others as to the true market value of your larger assets. For example, you may wish to hire a realtor or a real estate appraiser to tell you what they think your home is worth.

  • Sometimes there are important tax considerations. Corbin is not an accountant, nor is he a tax lawyer. You may wish to obtain the advice of a C.P.A. or tax attorney before making final decisions about financial matters in your divorce case.

  • If you or your spouse/opponent brought premarital property into the marriage, or were gifted property, or inherited property you need to tell Corbin about that. In certain cases, such property can be separately set aside to one spouse/opponent and treated differently than marital property.

  • At the end of the proceedings, you will want to know that you can make ends meet – that you have a financial plan that will actually work for you. Corbin is not a financial planner, but there are professionals who are. You may consider hiring a financial planner to help you as this process plays out.

Documents

It is very helpful to have documents verifying as much of the financial information as possible. Please bring in the following documents when you return your homework:

  • Financial Information:

    • Personal income tax returns (federal and state) for the last 5 years.

    • Business income tax returns (federal and state) for the last 5 years.

    • Financial Statements for any businesses in which you have an ownership interest

    • Credit card statements for the previous 12 months

    • Bank statements for all accounts for the past year

    • Wage stubs for the past three months

    • Statements from trusts, stocks, bonds or US Treasury notes

      • Investment accounts (annuities and mutual funds)

    • Retirement Savings Information

    • 401(k)s/403(b)s

    • IRAs

    • Life insurance policies (including cash value)

    • Social security statement

    • Pension statement

  • Property Information: (including property description, address, ownership interest, market value, outstanding mortgage and loan balances, source of mortgage and loan payments and most recent tax assessment)

    • Primary residence

    • Rental properties (including any rental income)

    • Vacation homes

    • Business property

    • Inheritance (current or anticipated)

    • Interests in trust (current or future)

    • Automobile(s), boat(s) or other recreational vehicle(s) titles

  • Legal Agreements and Previous Filings:

    • Court documents, family services paperwork, police reports and previous attorney files

    • Prenuptial agreements (also termed premarital agreement or antenuptial agreement)

      • Divorce decrees or child support from previous marriage

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