Property division negotiations between spouses in Alabama may be intense. However, according to the Alabama State Bar, it is in their best interests to try to come to an agreement without the involvement of the court.

Once they have a settlement agreement in hand, they may bring this to the judge. The law does not require the courts to accept the agreement, but it does recognize that spouses understand their assets better than a judge can, and most settlements are honored.

What can spouses do to ensure that the agreement they come up with is fair and likely to be accepted by the court?

According to the American Bar Association, many high-asset couples hire a forensic accountant or other financial professionals to help them identify, inventory and provide documentation for all of their marital and separate assets. The financial professional may conduct a lifestyle analysis, assess the potential for alimony, calculate child support, create equitable distribution schedules and evaluate whether there has been any dissipation of marital assets.

The documentation the financial professional requests in the process of uncovering all marital assets may include the following:

  • Income tax returns for the state and the IRS for the past three years
  • Business and sales tax returns for the past three years
  • Trust tax returns for the past three years
  • Checking account statements for the past three months
  • Savings and brokerage account statements, money market funds and certificates of deposits for the past 12 months
  • Credit card statements and charge account statements for the past 12 months

A financial professional may request other documentation, as well, depending on the couple’s assets.