No matter how civil your marriage breakup may be, protecting your assets until a judge signs the settlement or court order should be one of your priorities. A misstep, miscalculation or oversight often leaves divorced individuals struggling financially for months or years into the future. To avoid this, you will want to know what you need and protect what you have.
After the finalization of your divorce, it will be important for you to have as many assets and as few debts as possible, but those assets may not be as valuable to you as they may seem. This is why it is wise to begin planning for property division well in advance of your court date or mediation session, so you are informed and confident in pursuing your goals.
Do you know what you have?
During divorce proceedings, both spouses sign an affidavit of full disclosure of their incomes and assets. However, this does not always mean your spouse is sharing all he or she has. In fact, many divorcing spouses think it is fair to stash away some cash or hide other assets for their own security or comfort. This is against the law, and it will definitely affect your ability to obtain your fair share of marital assets. You may benefit from your attorney’s resources for uncovering hidden assets.
Additionally, take a close look at assets, such as the family home, vehicles and investments. While it may seem worth fighting for these, be sure you understand other components, such as tax ramifications, upkeep, depreciation and penalties for withdrawing funds. Your attorney can advise you if it is in your best interests to focus more on the liquid assets, like the savings account.
Protecting your future
While it is good to have a clear idea of what you hope to obtain in the divorce, you will also want to protect your financial wellbeing by taking some often-overlooked steps, such as the following:
- Change the passwords and log-in information on your computer, phone, devices and all online accounts. You may even want to consider installing spyware detection on your computer.
- Obtain credit reports from all three major agencies to determine which debts you jointly own.
- Pay off as many joint debts and close as many shared credit accounts as you can so you can begin to build your own individual credit history.
- Meet with your attorney to revise any estate planning documents, life insurance beneficiaries or fiduciary roles you may have designated to your spouse.
Dating or flaunting a romance before the divorce is over is not usually a good idea. Such actions may stir negative emotions in your spouse, making it more difficult to reach reasonable agreements or peaceful compromise. In the same vein, it is wise to postpone moving in with a new romantic interest since this may affect your living expenses, thus impacting the amount of child or spousal support payments the court awards. Instead, you will want to focus on reaching a positive outcome and a hopeful future for yourself.