When contemplating or in the process of a divorce, one important task is to collect as much information as you can about the state of your finances, whether it pertain to assets or liabilities. Following is a short summary of the information you should attempt to gather in order to best prepare for your case.
The first step is to examine what programs may be installed on your computer. Records are commonly kept in financial programs such as Quicken or Quickbooks. Microsoft Excel or OneNote may also be used. If records are kept in note form, they can be kept in a basic word processing program such as Microsoft Word.
You can check for these programs by examining all of the icons on your desktop. Also, click the start button in the lower right corner of the screen. If you scroll up to a tab that says either “programs” or “all programs” a list of all programs should display. If any items on the list display a small arrow, there are other program options under the arrow that you should check. (For example, Word and Excel can often be found under the heading of Microsoft Office.)
Start by making a list of all programs that you find so that you can stay organized when you are cataloguing your digital information.
One of the most important things to remember when searching for records on a computer is to be organized and thorough. Documents can be found in many different places on a computer and they can be easy to miss. To start, click on the “My documents” folder. Review all of the files you see there, and don’t forget subfolders. Also remember that a folder labeled, for example, “My Pictures” or “My Music” can also contain documents, so open every folder to examine its contents.
You can also find documents by opening the programs you have found. When you are in a program, you can click under “file” in the upper left and choose the option “open.” That should bring you to a default location that you may have already examined, but it is a good place to check. You may not be aware when you are working in the programs themselves that a program might be saving to a default location other than a document folder. Opening the programs and checking to see where documents are saved may help you locate these records.
Finally, you should also do a document search. This can be done by clicking on the “start” button and choosing the “search” or “find” option, which is often accompanied by a magnifying glass. You can search for all documents created within the last month or year. A good search term might be the most recent year or the name of your financial institution. Make sure that you are keeping a record of all the documents you find and stay organized so that you can be sure that you are providing us with complete information.
Another important source of information is the history saved in your web browser. Many financial institutions allow online access. You should check the website for each credit card, bank, and financial account (i.e. retirement, stock, etc.). If your login and password are saved on the computer, you can check the details of all of these accounts. If neither you nor your spouse accesses account information this way, you should take the initiative to sign up for a login and password so that you will have the most current information for any of your financial accounts.
If you are concerned that you may have missed other accounts, check your browser favorites and history. You can do this by opening the browser (which could be Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, or others) and clicking on the “favorites” or star buttons to check what the existing settings are. You can also click the down arrow on the address bar to see the history, or the “internet options” button under the “tools” heading.
From this data, you can begin to create a list of all accounts and most current balances. Being able to view all of this information in one place will be vital for decision making. It is also good to print all current information and review any historical data that may be available. You should also consider printing the historical data.
It is critical to try to find as much information as possible to help aide the process of your divorce. By having this financial information, we can start to complete required financial disclosures and move forward with the discussion process.
Our goal is for you to assemble financial data to get a total picture of your case as soon as possible. If you ever have questions or problems on accessing this information or any other concerns, we are always here to help you.
This is a legal advertisement from Sterk Family Law Group. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be construed as such. This article is for informational and educational purposes only.