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Get these documents in order before your divorce

Once you decide to divorce, there are a variety of documents to get in order. Organization will go a long way in helping protect your legal rights, while also reducing your stress-load.

While there is no shortage of documents you may need for your divorce, here are five of the most common:

  • Income tax returns: Gather tax returns, both individual and business (if applicable), for the last three to five years. This should include federal, state and local tax filings.
  • Bank account statements: This includes all bank accounts, including checking, savings, business checking and money market among any others you have. A minimum of six months of statements is a good place to start.
  • Proof of income: This typically includes your pay stub, but may also come in the form of a letter from your employer.
  • Copy of your prenuptial agreement: If you have one, it's important to review it in detail and keep it close by. It'll factor into many aspects of your divorce, primarily property division.
  • Retirement account statements: Even if you're young, this isn't a detail to overlook. Retirement account statements, such as those associated with a 401(k) or IRA, heavily factor into property division.

As you get started, don't be surprised if you're asked to dig up other documents, such as those pertaining to joint debt and life insurance.

With the proper level of organization, it's easier to understand the divorce process and feel good about your ability to protect your legal rights. And once your divorce is finalized, you'll look back and realize you did everything you could to negotiate an agreement that's in your best interest.

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