How a Divorce Attorney Can Safeguard Your Money and Property
When an individual decides that it is time to get a divorce, one of the initial concerns is how to best protect their money, assets, and property. This is especially true if they anticipate that their spouse is going to contest ownership, seek full possession of certain assets and property, or be otherwise greedy in asserting their priority to a larger share from the divorce resolution. The first thing to remember to do to guard against these risks is to hire an attorney. It is an attorney’s job to protect your interests and, in a divorce proceeding, this includes protecting your money, assets, and property.
An attorney typically takes many steps to ensure that your asset and property are protected in a manner that safeguards your future rights and follows the law. The first step would be to make a detailed list of the assets you own and the money you have. In addition to assets and money, this list should also include property (including marital property), foreign assets, investment, bank accounts, liabilities, personal property, etc. It should also include inheritances that are to be made to you and unvested interests in property. Not only is this important when it comes to dividing all property and assets, but it also serves as useful documentation of everything that is yours or for which you have a lawful claim—both now and in the future. This can be compared to your spouse’s list for consistency. Any discrepancies will be investigated to determine if your spouse is trying to conceal something or make something seem as if you have no legal claim against.
Never conceal assets or property on the assumption that you can keep these assets or property hidden from your spouse, their attorney, or the court. If the court determines that you hid your assets or property, this could have a devastating effect on your divorce resolution. To the judge, your actions demonstrated intent to defraud your spouse and the court and shows a character of dishonesty, selfishness, and hostility. As a result, the judge may, in extreme circumstances, deny you the right to the possession of the asset/property and award the entire item to your spouse or reduce your share of the value of the asset/property. The judge could also impose penalties on you. A divorce attorney can help you fight against this urge as well as help you prepare a detailed list.
Hiring a divorce attorney is important no matter where you are located but, in some cases, it considered more important in community property states. In community property states—Alaska (optional and by agreement), Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin—all marital assets, money, and property are divided equally 50/50. It is therefore critical to establish what is considered separate property—acquired before the marriage or included only in your name—before walking into divorce settlement negotiations. A divorce attorney can help you determine this and fight to safeguard your money, assets, and property.