In Part 1 of “Ten Documents You Should Keep Close If You’re Getting A Divorce”, we discussed the importance of documents in divorce proceedings including: financial account statements, property documents, marriage documents, corporate records and agreements, contracts and court orders. In this installment we will review five more documents which may be vital in a divorce.
Where there is any question as to the residence of children in a relationship, or the possibility that a spouse might decide to travel with the children to a foreign jurisdiction without the other spouse’s permission, it is prudent to keep tabs on the children’s passports and to ensure that they are secured in a location where they can be used only with both parties’ permission. If you have any concerns about a spouse potentially travelling without authorization with your children, we urge you to contact a family lawyer in your jurisdiction. We can help you if you are based in Vancouver or Edmonton.
7. Income Tax Documents
Very clearly, money is a big part of many people’s difficulties when they are going through a separation or divorce. Even if they do not always serve as proof of a spouse’s income, Income Tax documents at least can provide a starting point for an investigation into that income. Income Tax Returns can show what “over the table” employment income has been earned, what investment income has been generated (and hence, give some hint as to accrued investments), what RRSPs have been liquidated, what charities have been donated to and what business income has been generated. This will not always be enough in and of itself. Often, there will be a disconnect between what is set out in the Income Tax documentation and what the company documents reveal or what the financial institution account statements show. Your family lawyer will need to see your income tax returns and attachments for at least three years and very possibly further back than that. If you properly have access to your spouse’s Income Tax documents, your family lawyer might also request copies of the same.
Pictures of your relationship with your spouse can dispel misconceptions. They can show who was living in a property, when you began to cohabit with your spouse and when you separated. They can show the condition of property and the existence of assets. Pictures are extraordinarily important, but they are not decisive of all questions. While they might, for example, demonstrate who cared for children, they cannot prove that someone did not care for those children. Your family lawyer will likely request that you collect photos showing the condition and contents of your house, and will speak with you about whether photos regarding important times in your life will be useful. When you are thinking of separation, safely gathering together your photos in one place will make the process easier.
Email is the diary of your life. For many people, it is a running account of interactions, feelings, events, communications, finances – virtually all aspects of their lives – neatly arranged in chronological order and searchable by virtually any term or parameter. Our Vancouver and Edmonton family lawyers strongly suggest that you back your email correspondence up on a separate external hard drive or USB storage so that it will be available if need be.
10. Receipts and Invoices
It may seem like overkill to collect together copies of receipts and invoices; however, these documents can fill in the blanks left by the other documents. A financial account statement might show how much money was spent, but the invoice can show exactly how it was spent and who spent it. This is important to establish how much money a spouse might need, to establish who was responsible for various aspects of the spouse’s joint lives, or to show what various items might be worth.
This is not, by any means, an exhaustive list, nor is it a blanket requirement for anyone considering a divorce or separation. The best thing to do before making any decisions about separation or divorce is to consult with a divorce lawyer to get advice as to which of these documents you might need to gather together and which other documents you might need.