If you have decided to get a divorce, you need to be prepared for the mountains of paperwork that you will soon face. Before anything else, you should begin collecting any and all required financial documents to help you prepare for divorce proceedings.

If you are unsure of what documents you need to collect and review, these are a few of the most important.

Proof of Income

Proving your income can be more difficult than you might think. Things can get especially complicated if you have ever earned income from services performed as an independent contractor. However, there are several documents you can gather to paint a more accurate picture of your income history.

These documents might include pay stubs, contracts, and 1099 forms along with any other relevant paperwork that shows how much you were paid to perform a certain job, as well as any expenses that offset your income.

Bank Statements and Credit Card Statements

One of the most difficult parts about getting a divorce is determining how to divide debts and assets. Without detailed documentation, it can be very hard to prove who is owed what. However, this process can be made easier by providing bank and credit card statements.

Bank and credit card statements can often demonstrate which assets belong to whom. Additionally, bank and credit card statements can help reveal if your spouse has ever engaged in fraudulent activity (e.g., hiding additional income). Accurate bank and credit card statements will make your and your attorney’s lives much easier during the divorce process.

Tax Returns

Next, you’ll need to have records of your tax returns in order to demonstrate your financial situation. Whether you filed jointly with your spouse or independently, you should collect state, local, and federal tax returns from at least the last three years.

Tax returns will help paint a more accurate picture of you and your spouse’s financial well-being, and will likely be a large factor when determining any alimony or child support that is owed.

Retirement Records

Finally, you should be sure to collect all of your financial records pertaining to your retirement. This could include items such as your pension plan or 401(k). You should be able to obtain many of these records from human resources at your place of employment or directly from the administrator of the plan. You should, of course, try to obtain as many relevant documents as possible. However, you should at least be sure to retrieve records of your benefits, procedures for qualified domestic relations orders, and summary plan descriptions.

Remember, this is not an all-inclusive list. However, these documents should be a great start when preparing for your divorce proceedings.

Whether or not your separation is amicable, it is important that you put together an accurate picture of your and your spouse’s financial situations as it will make sure that assets are divided fairly and both of you are able to support yourselves once separated.