How To Avoid Losing Everything In A Divorce
The one universal complaint that many couples who divorce report is that they lost everything during the process. Unfortunately this is nothing new. With aggressive lawyers on both sides, in most cases neither partner ends up a winner.
There are very few divorces that end amicably. Typically, each year the divorce season spikes in January and continues until the end of March.
Anyone who is plans to or is in the process of a divorce, it is important to remember that you need to protect yourself, your future and your children and this means getting your finances in order as soon as possible. Here are some tips that may help you avert a complete financial disaster:
- First of all, know all your assets and define what is yours. Before filing any paperwork, be aware of how much money you have and where it is located. Find out what is in your name and what is in the spouse’s name. This includes your bank accounts, mortgages, any investments and all other assets. Judges only care about your financial statements and do not really care that you have proof of your philandering partner. The bottom line is that it is all about money and the only way an equal division can be done is if you know exactly what is yours and can clearly state that. You can’t come back later and say you missed filing an asset.
- Have copies of all your financial statements. The courts really don’t care that you have a video of your spouse cheating in a seedy motel but it does want proof of all your assets. So start getting copies of everything you own. Do not rely on email or online copies; you need original or notarized copies. The reason this is important is your spouse may later lock you out of a bank account by changing the password. So have all documents such as tax forms, bank accounts and any financial statements that you have signed in the last 3-5 years.
- Secure some liquid assets. In many divorces, one partner is left broke because the other partner either closed the account or switched passwords. So be proactive and withdraw some money from a joint account and move some money over. That doesn’t mean you swipe the entire account but just enough to cover any immediate expenses. Otherwise the only way to access the money will be an emergency court appearance to get temporary alimony or child support. This is not only expensive but is also a a time consuming process.
- Know your state’s laws so you know what you are dealing with. In some states with community property laws, everything is split 50:50.
- Work with a bonafide dispute lawyer and a financial advisor. Never walk into court unprepared.
- Finally, decide what you want and need. Determine your lifestyle and your future needs. Most people ask too little and then complain they made a mistake.
If all this makes your nervous, then the only way to save your assets is not to divorce or work out an amicable arrangement with your spouse.