You might not consider that what you own matters with divorce, but the more things you have means the divorce can be more complex. Unfortunately, some spouses get distracted dealing with the emotional ramifications of divorce and that can make things end badly. The stakes are higher when you and your spouse own a lot of property. Here is what to do to ensure you don't get taken advantage of during the divorce.
What to Understand About Marital Assets
You may be entitled to more than you think. While the division of marital assets is largely dependent on how your state views divorce, the courts typically also look at who purchased and used the property and a fair distribution of marital assets. Marital assets do not include property already owned by one party prior to the divorce, however. Many spouses are unaware that they are entitled to some of their spouse's retirement savings. Marital property includes assets like bank and investment accounts, pets, vehicles, real estate, and more.
Act Fast and First
Don't let your spouse surprise you with divorce papers. If you and your spouse are not getting along, be ready by making it your business to learn all you can about your financial situation. If you wait, your spouse could cut off your access to accounts, which can make it more difficult to know about marital property. Make sure you have access to banking and investment accounts, copies of several years of tax returns, profit and loss statements from a business, access to a safe or safe deposit box, and any other financial information. This information is especially important to obtain if you plan to file divorce first.
File Divorce First
In some cases, you can gain a distinct advantage by speaking to a divorce lawyer sooner rather than later. Not only can they advise you on actions to take before you file, but you can also find a divorce lawyer before your spouse does. Even if you don't believe you have the funds to pay for a lawyer because your spouse holds the financial power, your lawyer can file orders to compel your spouse to pay the legal fees.
About Financial Disclosure
Disclosure is important in all divorces and never more so than with a high-asset divorce. The more you know about your and your spouse's finances, the greater the chances of gaining full disclosure. If your spouse is holding back, financial records can be subpoenaed. Having a true and accurate picture of your assets is vital when it comes to marital property settlements, child support, debt divisions, and spousal support.
Speak to a divorce lawyer for more information.