Preparing for a divorce includes gathering information about the past few years of life to be able to plan for the future. As many California women know, finances can often provide surprises during this process, particularly if a spouse was not actively involved in handling these during marriage. To prepare for a stable, financial future, experts recommend gathering three types of documents.

As soon as divorce becomes a possibility, women should gather the last three years of their tax returns with any supporting documents, such as W2s or 1099s. If access to the returns is not readily available, women can get copies of these by filing IRS Form 406 or by contacting their tax preparer. Women who have ownership in a privately held businesses might find it more challenging to get this financial information, but it is important to have access to it so that it can be included in future planning.

Women should also have a lifestyle analysis and a net worth statement. A lifestyle analysis allows women to get a full picture of their spending and expenses, using information from their past and anticipating what it will be in the future. There are online tools that can help track spending directly from a person’s bank account, which can be helpful for future planning. A net worth statement should be submitted to the court with each spouse’s current financial situation. It should include both income and expenses as well as assets and liabilities. All the information should be correct, without any omissions, and should be accompanied by supporting documents, such as bank statements.

California residents preparing for divorce may find the assistance offered by a family law lawyer helpful. A lawyer may offer additional support during a confusing, stressful time, answer questions about state legislation, help their client gather the necessary documents and represent their client in negotiations and court appearances.