How to Protect My Money in a Divorce?
Going through a divorce can stress anyone: you may be unsure of what comes next for you in life and that can be overwhelming. Equally burdensome is your financial situation as your marital status is changed. You want to take every possible step to ensure that your money is kept safe, allowing you to easily transition to your post-marriage life. Here are some of the steps you can take to help you protect your assets during the divorce process.
Know How Much You Have
The first step to protecting your money in a divorce is to know just how much money you have. Not only will you have to file a formal financial disclosure during the divorce proceedings, but it is also wise to get a good understanding of where your money sits.
Gather and review the following documents:
- Any bank statements showing account balances
- Any real estate documents showing property you own with your spouse
- Car titles showing ownership of every vehicle
- Credit card statements
- Income tax returns
- Life, health, and property insurance policies
- Recurring expenses for your child, if applicable
- Retirement benefit account statements showing your name and account balances
- W-2’s for both you and your spouse for at least the last five years
Gathering these documents may seem overwhelming at first, but it is vital that you get a full and accurate picture of your financial situation so you can ensure that your former spouse does not try to shortchange you in a divorce.
Do Not Hide Your Money
This is an extremely important point as it could cause you legal trouble. Under no circumstances should you lie on a financial disclosure or try to hide your money.
Courts look very poorly upon people who take this action during divorce proceedings. You will not be doing yourself any favors by trying to gift money away or hide it in offshore accounts. Most likely, your spouse is aware of the money and your additional assets will come to light. It is better to be up front from the start.
Separate Your Bank Accounts
Once you have taken a full accounting of your financial situation, you should set up new bank accounts. Stop spending out of your marital accounts and stop receiving direct deposits or putting money into your shared marital accounts.
Having a clean break is important once you know divorce is imminent. By starting the process of separating your finances, you get a better idea of what it will be like to live on your own with just your income. Looking at your total expenses as an individual will also help you better prepare for what is to come.
Do Not Make Any Rash or Outrageous Expenses
Just like separating your finances is a prudent move, so too is avoiding any major or spur-of-the-moment purchases or other financial decisions. Do not go out and buy a new sports car. Do not sell your current car, try to change the title, or begin the process of buying a new home.
Courts will look at these actions as trying to take advantage of the situation. This may have seemed like a good idea (or at least a fun idea) at the time, but in the long run, it could cause financial problems for you as the court may order you to pay back the marital bank account the funds you used.
A key point here is whether the funds were marital assets. If they came from your joint bank account, the funds were most likely marital assets because you both contributed to the bank account. If you received an inheritance from a family member after your divorce started and you never put the money in your marital account, you have a strong argument that the money was never marital property and your expenses were personal, even if ill advised.
Keep it Objective and Do Not Make It Personal
It bears repeating: divorces are emotional. It is easy to get sucked into the emotion of the process and to splitting up lives that were so interwoven together. When people are emotional, many people tend to say and do things they regret.
While it can be hard, your best course of action is to remain as calm and collected as possible. Not only will this make the divorce process go smoother and faster, it will also result in a better outcome for you as you are not contributing to any additional headaches for the court.
Get Legal Help
To help you manage the entire divorce process, get the right help. A financial advisor can help you collect all the documents necessary to get a good picture of your financial situation. They can also help you set up the right accounts that help you plan for the future with a single income.
One of the most important steps you can take is to seek trusted legal advice from an experienced divorce lawyer. Your attorney can help you stay calm during an emotional process by handling the negotiations and discussions on your behalf. Especially when minor children are involved, having an advocate on your side that you trust is looking out for your best interests can help you feel more in control of the entire process while also feeling comfortable that your needs are met. While it may seem costly to hire a lawyer, in the long run, it can save you lots of headaches.
A Marlton Divorce Lawyer at Goldstein & Mignogna, P.A., Helps You Protect Your Assets in Divorce
To make sure that your assets are protected, and your divorce reaches a fair conclusion, it may be prudent to speak with a divorce attorney. An experienced Marlton divorce lawyer at Goldstein & Mignogna, P.A., stands ready to help guide you through this process. Contact us today at 856-890-9400 or complete our online form to schedule your consultation with our experienced team. With offices in Marlton, New Jersey, we proudly serve our neighbors in South Jersey, Marlton, Burlington County, Camden County, Gloucester County, and statewide.