Protecting Assets During A Divorce

The moment you know that your marriage is coming to an end is when you should immediately begin preparing to secure your assets. Documentation will be essential in protecting your assets and you should not spare any time or money in this area.

If you do not already have an inventory of your home items and other assets for home insurance purposes, now is the time to create one. Start with the most valuable items and make a detailed list of descriptions along with taking a clear picture of each item. Once you have properly documented all of your assets you will have to begin making categories of marital and non-marital property. Keep in mind that the court will make a final determination on what will be considered marital or non-marital property.

What is Marital Property?

Marital property is considered to be everything acquired during the marriage. Non-marital property is considered to be exceptions to marital property which include gifts from family members, inheritances, separately owned and titled property acquired before the marriage, among others. Some examples of non-marital property are inheritances from a deceased parent, trust income from a deceased family member, an antique painting given to you from a friend during the marriage, a piece of land titled in your name that you owned prior to the marriage and which was not enhanced with marital funds or the sweat equity of your spouse. Sometimes non-marital property can become marital property under certain circumstances. For example, if a spouse owned a home prior to the marriage and the monthly mortgage payments and major renovations were paid with marital funds, a claim by the other spouse for at least the increased value can be made.

Organize Your Asset Information

In addition to making an inventory of your assets, you should back up all vital computer records that contain pertinent information on assets and financials. You need your own copy of every record so that you can have a clear financial picture of your situation and so that you can present copies of these records as evidence if needed in court and to assist your attorney with the discovery process. Copy all bank statements, retirement account statements, credit card statements, wills, powers of attorney, and the like. If you have a prenuptial agreement or ante-nuptial agreement, you should get a copy from your attorney as well. You should also involve the services of an appraiser to get the proper value of all of your assets as well as the equity in your home.

You should remove all valuable items and information and place them in a safe location such as a safe deposit box in your bank. You should also get a letter from your bank representative stating the current balance in any joint bank accounts. This will come in handy in court to prove exactly what the balance was on a date certain, so that you can properly contest any wrongful depletion of funds in these accounts. Once your divorce proceedings begin, you should ask the court to issue a restraining order on all financial assets in order to preserve marital funds.

Having all asset information properly organized and classified will only be to your advantage during your divorce proceedings. Remind yourself that these are your funds and possessions too and that you need to protect them.

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