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Columbus Ohio Divorce Lawyer on Divorce in Ohio Part 6: Preparing to File Divorce Papers

COLUMBUS OHIO DIVORCE LAWYERThis is the 6th installment in a series by Virginia Cornwell, a Columbus Ohio Divorce Attorney and Ohio State Bar Association Certified Family Relations Specialist.  Virginia is one of approximate 100 attorneys in Ohio to have received this honor.  This article is about the process and options for ending your marriage in Ohio, and about Ohio divorce laws.

CHECKLIST OF DOCUMENTS YOU NEED TO PREPARE TO FILE DIVORCE PAPERS

COLUMBUS OHIO DIVORCE LAWYERDOCUMENTS THAT ALREADY EXIST AND YOU NEED TO GATHER

If you are going to file divorce papers, there are certain documents you will need to gather.  If you are trying to handle your divorce yourself, you will need them, and if you are hiring a Columbus Ohio Divorce Lawyer, you will need to give these documents to your attorney.  If you have decided to move out of the house or apartment where you and your spouse lived together, you will need to gather these documents before you leave. You may not be able to find all of them, but get as many of them as you can:

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  • COLUMBUS DIVORCE LAWYERYour marriage certificate
  • Tax returns (both business and individual) for the last 3 years for you, your spouse and your business.  This should include Federal, State, and Local tax returns
  • Paycheck stubs for the last year for both you and your spouse
  • Statements for the last year for all accounts you or your spouse had at any bank, credit union, investment firm or a similar institution
  • Documents regarding any stocks, bonds, treasury bonds, certificates of deposit, stock options etc. that you or your spouse own
  • Documents regarding any retirement accounts, pensions, annuities, deferred compensation accounts, IRAs, Keoghs, 401(K) plans, 403B plans, and any similar account which you or your spouse have.  Do NOT forget to include any plan that they have with a past employer that has not been rolled over.  If any loans or withdrawals have been taken against any of these accounts, bring that information too.
  • COLUMBUS DIVORCE LAWYERSocial Security annual statements for you and your spouse for the last three years
  • Information regarding any post office boxes you or your spouse has
  • Information regarding any lock boxes or safe deposit box you or your spouse have at banks or other places, and the place where they are located (and a list of what is contained, or what you THINK is contained in each box)
  • Information regarding any storage units you or your spouse own (and a list of what is contained, or what you THINK is contained in each storage unit)

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  • Information regarding any real estate you or your spouse own, including purchase documents, deeds, mortgages, taxes, insurance, etc.
  • Information regarding any life insurance policies you or your spouse have, along with statements showing the cash value, if any
  • Information regarding ANY insurance policy you have
  • Information regarding any trusts you or your spouse have created or are a beneficiary of
  • Originals or copies of the Will of you and your spouse
  • Originals or copies of any Powers of Attorney or Health Care directives of you and your spouse
  • Any Prenuptial Agreements / Antenuptial Agreements / Prenup that you and your spouse signed (and any related document, if any, that you signed later which might modify this agreement)
  • Any Separation Agreements which you or your spouse signed
  • Any document you and your spouse wrote in anticipation of divorce
  • Any e-mails, texts or correspondence which you think is relevant to the divorce

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  • COLUMBUS OHIO DIVORCE ATTORNEYAppraisals of any real estate, automobiles, jewelry, antiques, coins, boats or ANY other property that you own (if you already have them – you do not have to get these things appraised before you file for divorce)
  • Copies of  any health insurance policies and insurance cards that any member of your family is covered under, including your children.  This includes medicaid, Caresource, etc.
  • Originals if possible, or copies of the birth certificates of yourself and your children
  • Originals, if possible, or copies of titles to any vehicles, boats, motorcycles, recreational vehicles that you own
  • Originals, if possible, or copies of passports for yourself and your children.
  • Documentation regarding any workers compensation or personal injury claims you or your spouse are or have been involved in

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DIVORCE LAWYERDocumentation regarding any criminal cases you or your spouse have been involved in, even if you were not arrested and were not convicted, but were simply charged or investigated

  • Documentation regarding any Childrens Services case you or your spouse have been involved in (if you have it), even if it did not relate to the children of THIS marriage, and even if the case was ultimately dismissed
  • Documentation regarding any health condition that effects you or your children (NOTE: your spouse’s health information may be protected by HIPAA, and you should not take this without your spouse’s consent)
  • DIVORCE ATTORNEYSCopies of any child support orders which you or your spouse are obligated to pay for children which are NOT children of this marriage
  • If you have been married before or have court papers regarding children with another person, you need to give copies of these documents to your Columbus Ohio Divorce Lawyer

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  • COLUMBUS OHIO DIVORCE LAWYERCopies of monthly statements for the last year of ALL debts and bills that you owe.  This should include EVERYTHING, such as:
  • Credit card statements
  • Auto Loans
  • Mortgages
  • Insurance bills (home, auto, life, health)
  • Tax bills (both past due and ones that aren’t due yet, including income tax, property tax, etc.)
  • Student Loans
  • Equity and Line of Credit Loans
  • Unsecured Loans
  • Promissory Notes or other documents regarding any money that you owe to friends or family
  • Organization or Membership dues (professional associations, country clubs, anything that you pay dues for)
  • Union Dues
  • Subscriptions
  • Unpaid health care expenses
  • Child Care bills, statements or receipts
  • Utility bills
  • Anything else that you owe money for

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  • Documentation regarding any other debt or asset which you or your spouse has which is not described above
  • Photographs that you want to keep.  These do not need to be provided to your Columbus Ohio Divorce Lawyer unless you think they are relevant to the divorce case.  Unfortunately, sometimes spouses who have possession of the photographs will not share them with the other spouse, even if ordered to do so by a court.  Therefore you may want to consider either dividing up the photographs and putting your half in a safe place, or having them all duplicated so both husband and wife can have a copy.

DOCUMENTS THAT YOU NEED TO CREATE

  • A timeline with a description of any events which you believe are significant to the divorce.  The timeline should include the date the event happened (as close as you can get, if you don’t know the exact date, what happened, who can testify about it (saw or heard it themselves), and what evidence proves it.  List everything that is important, even if you don’t know how you can prove it.
  • A list of persons that your Columbus Ohio Divorce Lawyer should speak to, and what it is that you think each person would say if they had to testify under oath.
  • A list of all the persons that you think would testify on behalf of your spouse in a divorce, and what you think they would say, even if you think they would not be telling the truth.
  • A list of all property that you own
  • A list of all debts that you owe
  • A list of all the contents of your house
  • A list of items which you or your spouse have in a safe, safe deposit box, etc.
  • A list of items which you or your spouse have in any storage units
  • A list of items which you or your spouse owned before marriage, received as an inheritance, or was a gift solely to you or solely to your spouse
  • A list of all items which believe your spouse may have transferred to, hidden or given to someone else in preparation for divorce
  • A detailed budget.  Really detailed, not just bare bones.  Look at what you spent money on for the last year, and then average it out over 12 months.  A budget is important to both temporary orders and spousal support.  You need to have a detailed budget if you anticipate being either the recipient or payor of spousal support.

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ADDITIONAL DOCUMENTS THAT BUSINESS OWNERS WILL NEED TO GATHER

If you own a business, and that business earns substantial income, then your business may need to be valued as part of your divorce.  Many business owners think that their business has no value because THEY are the business.  This may be true.  Not all businesses have value substantial enough to pay a valuation expert or to litigate over, but some businesses do.  To start with, you will need to give to your Columbus Ohio Divorce Lawyer all the same documents that you provide to your accountant each year to do your taxes.  You will probably need additional documentation if your business is to be valued by an expert.  To see what types of documents a business valuation analyst would need to see, click here.

When gathering these documents it is IMPORTANT to remember that you are NOT trying to “grab the documents and run”.  Your spouse needs access to all the same information that you do for the divorce, and they will get the information eventually.  If you make it expensive for your spouse to get the information because you would not share it, then the court may order you to reimburse both your spouse and his or her lawyer for that expense.  The better practice is to gather the information and either make copies for your spouse, or give the originals to your Columbus Ohio Divorce Lawyer and have them provide a copy to your spouse’s Columbus Ohio Divorce Lawyer.

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You may also be interested in some of our divorce articles:

In addition to the other installments in this Divorce in Ohio Series (see links at top of the page), you may also find the following topics, which relate to divorce, to be helpful.

AdulteryAnnulmentAlimony (Spousal Support)Best Interest of the ChildChild CustodyChild Custody Jurisdiction, Child Support (deviation)Child Support (how much)Child Support (how to pay)Child Support (lower)Child Support (myths)Child Support (resources), Child Support (sign up),ContemptDissolutionDivorce BasicsDivorce MythsForeclosure MediationGrandparentsGuardian ad LitemHouse, How Long Your Divorce May LastInternational Abduction,Legal SeparationMediationMovingPacket of Forms vs. Getting a LawyerPrenuptial Agreements (Antenuptial Agreements)Shared Parenting,Temporary OrdersTemporary Orders AffidavitsWhere to File for Divorce

DISCLAIMER – Read it, it’s important!

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