Meta Description: Divorce can be financially devastating, so it’s important to know your position. Our article features multiple strategies to protect your assets during a divorce.
Despite being termed as a civil case, divorces can often be anything but. The unfortunate fact of the matter is that divorces can get messy, especially when it comes to the division of assets. If you’re the more wealthy one out of the two of you, or you simply have certain assets that you don’t want your ex-spouse to claim, then you could be at great risk of asset seizing.
There are, however, procedures you can take to ensure your most valuable assets remain under your control. Find a separation agreement sample online since signing one as soon as possible helps to establish a legal timeframe for your split. Here are some of the other strategies you can employ to keep your assets protected in the event of a divorce.
Analyze Your Prenuptial Agreement
While this strategy obviously only applies to those who took the precaution of writing up a prenuptial agreement before marriage, if you have one, it’ll likely be your greatest defense against having your assets seized. Prenuptial agreements (often called prenups) are contracts both parties sign before marriage, establishing the assets both keep in the event of a divorce.
A thorough inspection of your prenup will ensure you go into any court proceedings with full knowledge of what you have a rightful claim to. Alternatively, knowing that a prenup isn’t legally binding may protect you in the event that you agreed to an asset division that you no longer agree with. Knowledge is the key in having control over what assets you keep and what gets taken.
Know Your Non-Matrimonial Assets
Divorces, with no prenuptial agreement in place, aim to divide the joint assets of both parties evenly. Often, this means that even if the two parties have vastly different levels of wealth, they still receive the same amount. Non-matrimonial assets are financial assets acquired before or after the marriage and are less likely to be divided up in the event of a divorce.
While it’s stipulated that your non-matrimonial assets belong solely to you, they are not entirely protected in a divorce. Once financial requirements are established, if the even division of the marital assets aren’t met on one side, non-matrimonial assets might be used to make up the difference. This often means non-matrimonial assets going to the less-wealthy party.
By knowing which of your assets are non-matrimonial, you may be able to establish a stronger claim to them during the proceedings. In the event that your ex-spouse is determined to not have their financial needs met, offering a larger percentage on matrimonial assets may allow you to keep your non-matrimonial assets without the offer being contested.
Any inheritance left solely to you by a friend or family member is protected in a divorce as a non-matrimonial asset, as long as it was left to you either before the date of your marriage or after you separated.
As your pension plan is designed to support your financial needs after retirement, any money in your pension is protected as a non-matrimonial asset. However, according to U.S. law, any money in a pension can still be claimed as a matrimonial asset if it was acquired while the couple was together or if that money was mingled.
Any savings that you had before the marriage began, or acquired after you separated, is a non-matrimonial asset as long as that money was never shared with your partner. For this to be true, the money must remain solely in your bank account and for your spouse to never have had access to it.
Other Non-Matrimonial Assets
The assets listed above constitute some of the most frequently disputed assets, but investments, high-value possessions, and family businesses and property in your own name can also be non-matrimonial assets.
Hire A Divorce Lawyer
It is advised that you hire a divorce lawyer, especially in cases where asset division gets messy. An attorney will be able to walk you through all of your legal property rights and help you to get a settlement that benefits you. The importance of mediation can also not be underemphasized, as having a legal professional to settle disputes will make the proceedings much cleaner.
Some lawyers may be willing to work pro bono (without pay) in certain cases if you’re unable to afford one. A high proportion of law firms will do at least some pro bono cases, either due to state requirements or to improve their reputation, and there are some clinics that work for free no matter what. Additionally, many legal firms offer advice and consultations for free.
In cases where the separation has come about due to a history of violence with your spouse, a lawyer will be able to arrange a restraining order and also act on your behalf in any legal proceedings.