Make a List

List and photograph or videotape all personal property (marital and premarital). Include furniture, paintings, jewelry, valuable collections, cars, boats, etc. If personal property has significant value, try to provide an appraisal or insured value for each asset.

List and photograph the contents of any current safety deposit boxes.

List child related expenses, including health insurance, medical expenses, clothes, activities, sports, music lessons, school tuition, school supplies, counseling, disabilities, childcare.

List children's current health care providers, primary care doctors, specialists, and therapists. Include addresses and telephone numbers.

Create A Personal Information Sheet:

  • Your name, date of birth, and social security number
  • Your spouse's name, date of birth, and social security number
  • Date and place of marriage
  • Length of time you and spouse have lived in Tennessee
  • Other states you have lived in during your marriage
  • Educational background and degrees of you and your spouse
  • You and your spouse's current occupation and employers' names and addresses
  • Names and birth dates of children born to you and spouse or legally adopted by you and spouse
  • Names and birth dates of other children by a previous marriage or for whom you or your spouse are responsible
  • Information about prior marriages and divorces

Collect the Following Documents

  • Your drivers license / passport / green card / personal ID
  • Marriage certificate
  • Last will and testament
  • Employment contracts, severance agreements, and bonus plans for you and your spouse
  • Prenuptial / postnuptial / or marital property agreement
  • Children's birth certificates and passports
  • Prior divorce judgments
  • Trust documents
  • Living wills, powers of attorney, medical directives
  • Orders of protection if any exist
  • Title policies for real estate holdings (including current marital residence)
  • Personal financial records for you and your spouse (credit card statements, investment and retirement account records, employment earnings statements)
  • Evidence of any additional income (investment property, royalties, lottery winnings, etc.)
  • Banking records (monthly statements, canceled checks, deposit slips, etc.) from financial institutions, credit unions, retirement accounts)
  • Records of any marital debts
  • Federal, state, and local individual or joint tax returns for you and your spouse for the past three years including any amended tax returns
  • Business earnings and corporate tax returns for the past three years if either you or your spouse has ownership in a business
  • Real Estate, inheritance, or personal property tax returns

Consider Proactive Preparation

  • Open a post office box.
  • Open your own personal checking and savings account. Put enough money in your checking account to handle expenses for a few weeks.
  • Get a cellphone and a new credit card in your name only.
  • Get a copy of your credit report (Experian, Equifax or TransUnion).
  • Document your current monthly expenses. Estimate the amount of money you'll need to meet future living expenses and create a realistic budget. Take into account that you may need to replenish some furnishings and household goods.
  • Inform any relative who may have a high-value shared asset with you (real estate, business, etc.) that there is a pending divorce.
  • Stop direct deposits from employers and all contributions to any type of retirement fund.
  • Obtain your Social Security Earnings Statement
  • Ensure you have adequate life, health and disability insurance.
  • Revise your will and medical directives.
  • Change the beneficiary of your insurance, IRA and trust accounts. Revoke or update powers of attorney.
  • Make needed repairs to house and automobile.
  • Schedule medical, dental, and vision checkups.
  • Change passwords (for computers, internet, email, tablets and mobile phones) and PIN numbers.
  • Copy or take possession of shared hard drives and removable storage drives. Be cognizant of the fact that your spouse may be trying to do the same.
  • Save videos, emails, or other communication between you and your spouse that supports a state of mind or behavior toward you or your children that may be relevant to your divorce.
  • Shred any documents before disposing of them.