What Documents Should You Gather in a Divorce? A Checklist to Help Guide You

One of the most frustrating parts of a divorce for participants, whether you are representing yourself or you have a lawyer, is the volume of documents that must be exchanged. In Arizona, under the Rules of Family Law Procedure, each party is required, within 40 days of after a response to the initial petition is filed, to disclose certain documents.  Depending on the issues involved, this list can be fairly exhaustive.

If you are considering filing for divorce, or a divorce petition has been filed, the following checklist of relevant documents should be gathered as soon as possible. The documents identified are required in order to give each party an understanding of all the facts, data, and information needed to fairly divide the assets. The information is also used by your attorney or the judge to help determine the amount of spousal maintenance and child support.

  1. A completed Affidavit of Financial Information on the form provided by the Court, or your counsel.
  2. Proof of a party’s income from all sources (tax returns, W-2’s, 1099 forms, and K-1 forms) for the past 3 years and year-end information for the most recent calendar year, as well as information for the current calendar year including year-to-date pay from all sources.
  3. Proof of medical, dental and vision insurance premiums paid by the party for any child listed or referenced in the petition.
  4. Proof of payment of any expenses for private school or special schools for any minor children.
  5. Proof of payment of any expenses paid for the special needs of a gifted child or a child with a disability.
  6. If parenting time is an issue, then the name and address of each treatment provider of any party for psychiatric or psychological issues, information regarding any orders of protection, and information on any Department of Child Safety investigations.
  7. Copies of all deeds, deeds of trust, and purchase agreements involving real property.
  8. Copies of all monthly bank statements, brokerage accounts, and retirement accounts for the past 6 months.
  9. Copies of all life insurance policies and premiums paid.
  10. Copies of all documents, including those electronically stored, that indicate the value of any real or personal property.
  11. Copies of all business tax returns, balance sheets, and profit and loss statements for the past 5 calendar years.
  12. Copies of all trusts in which a party has a beneficial interest.
  13. A list of items of personal property, including household furniture, furnishings, antiques, artwork, vehicles, jewelry, and your estimate of fair market value.
  14. Copies of all documents showing any debt currently owed including mortgages, notes, liens, encumbrances, and all statements for the past 11 months.
  15. Copies of all credit card statements for the past 11 months.

While the list appears exhausted, the documents identified are only the minimum documents required to be exchanged between the parties.  Other documents and information may be sought by either party by engaging in other discovery methods such as taking testimony during a deposition, or sending out written requests for specific information. However, timely gathering the information above will provide a good start on meeting the required disclosures for a divorce or legal separation in Arizona.

About the Author:

Marlene Pontrelli is a Member in our Phoenix office and co-chair of the firm’s Family Law Practice. Marlene is a certified specialist in family law. Her practice focuses on all aspects of family law including dissolution, post-dissolution, paternity, child custody and child support matters. She is admitted to practice in California and Arizona. She is a judge pro tem for the Superior Court of Maricopa County in family law. She has extensive trial and appellate experience including appearing before the Arizona Court of Appeals, Arizona Supreme Court and Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Ms. Pontrelli has written several books, including as a co-author of the Divorce in Arizona book. She is a frequent lecturer in the area of family law and has conducted workshops throughout the country. Ms. Pontrelli is also an adjunct professor at The Sandra Day O’Connor School of Law at Arizona State University, where she teaches the family law class. Marlene may be reached in our Phoenix office at 602-285-5081.