Once you decide to divorce, you’re likely to have questions and concerns about your current financial circumstances as well as how you’ll stabilize your situation in the future.

As you turn your attention to your finances, you’ll come to find that you need a variety of financial documents in order to remain organized.

While no two situations are the same, these documents are typically among the most important:

  • Property and debt division checklist: This is designed to outline both your assets and debts, giving you a clear idea of what requires division during your divorce. This document is also a good place to note which assets and debts are separate and which are joint.
  • Pay stubs: As a general rule of thumb, collect pay stubs for the last six to 12 months. If you’re unemployed, collect any paperwork associated with unemployment compensation that you’ve received.
  • Tax returns: If available, organize copies of your last three tax returns. Since you probably only have one copy, it may not be available to you. In this case, you can always contact your tax professional to provide you with another.
  • Prenuptial agreement: If you created a prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement, now’s the time to review it and make a copy to guide you through your divorce.
  • Bank account statements: This includes all bank accounts, including checking and savings. Even if it’s an account in your name only, it’s still applicable to the divorce process.
  • Retirement account statements: Retirement accounts are often a sticking point in divorce, as these have the potential to be among the most valuable assets. Pensions fit under this category, too.

The sooner you collect these financial documents, the sooner you can review them to better understand the impact they’ll have on your divorce.

For example, if you’ve stayed home to raise your children for the past 20 years while your spouse worked, you may be in position to seek alimony.

After you have your hands on these documents, among any others that you consider important, review them in great detail and devise a plan for protecting your legal rights throughout the divorce process.