What documents do you need to prepare for a divorce?

A divorce in California will likely involve dividing the property you and your spouse have unless you have a prenup or postnup agreement. Either way, you need to gather all of your documents for the court to confirm who gets what.


You need to make sure you have copies of all your assets, including retirement accounts, real estate and investments. It’s illegal to hide any of the assets you have in a divorce.

California is a community property state, which means that all the property you acquire during the marriage is usually marital property. You could write a postnup agreement to get around this law.


Just as assets are joint property of a married couple, debts are too. If your spouse has debts you didn’t know about, you may still have responsibility after the divorce for those liabilities. Negotiating a favorable settlement may help you avoid obligation for a debt that you didn’t know about until the divorce.

Life insurance

Life insurance is sometimes marital property. The court might divide the cash value of it between you and your spouse. Another possibility is changing the beneficiary of the life insurance to your children.

All types of automobiles

It’s not just your car that you have to disclose during a divorce. If you own boats, snowmobiles, ATVs or farming equipment, you need to prepare the title and registration documentation of these automobiles. Even if the vehicle is in your name, you need the documents.

You must gather your documentation of everything valuable you acquired since marrying your spouse. If you don’t want the court determining how to divide your assets and debts, you could negotiate with your spouse. Mediators may help both of you come to a fair agreement.

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Have more questions about divorce? Check out our Divorce Q&A.