Most of us dream of settling down one day and starting a family. Marriage comes with plenty of benefits, and it can positively impact your mental health.
Unfortunately, not everything is meant to be. Marriages sometimes end in divorce, and it’s essential to understand how to protect your assets when this occurs. Otherwise, an already difficult situation can become vastly more complicated.
To navigate a divorce appropriately, there’s certain information you’ll need to keep in mind when moving forward. Let’s explore the most important tips from a family lawyer to consider.
Understand Different Asset Types
This is one of the most important tips to remember during the process. There are two primary asset classes you’ll deal with: marital and non-marital.
As the names imply, marital assets are those you acquired during a marriage. Non-marital assets are ones you owned before the marriage. Non-marital assets can also consist of gifts or inheritances that are specifically meant for one spouse.
For example, let’s assume your mother passed away while you were still married and left you with ownership of her home. This would be considered a non-marital asset even though you acquired it during your marriage. You can save yourself plenty of headaches during divorce proceedings when you understand what assets you’re entitled to.
Consider Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreements
If you’ve signed either of these documents with your spouse, you can use this information to support your case. It’s not uncommon for prenuptial agreements to clearly define the allocation of property during a divorce.
Postnuptial agreements accomplish the same task but are decided with the divorce itself in mind. Regardless of which type of document is at play, both can prove to be an amazing asset.
Compile Financial Documents
To maximize your asset protection, you should neatly compile all relevant financial documents. Your divorce settlement will be heavily influenced by the information you can provide.
Documents to consider include investment account statements, property deeds, and tax returns. You should also consider other documents related to your debts and assets. Without this evidence on your side, you risk the judge ruling in the other party’s favor.
Create Individual Accounts
If you and your spouse have joint bank accounts, it’s recommended to open individual accounts to keep your assets protected. The same can be said about investment accounts and credit cards.
The better you safeguard your finances, the more control you’ll have over your funds. Not only will this protect your assets during the divorce, but it can also substantially improve your mental health. Consider a scenario where you didn’t have enough foresight to separate your assets.
If a judge awards your spouse most of your money, it could cause a setback that takes you years to recover from. Keep this information in mind when moving forward so you can avoid potential issues.
Organize Professional Valuations
Some people assume they can estimate the value of their assets. Others might believe their assets are worth the same amount they paid for them, regardless of how long ago they acquired the asset.
A professional valuation is essential for gaining insight into what your properties, businesses, etc. are worth. While this service requires a financial investment, it’s a small price to pay in many situations.
To clarify, imagine you assumed your business was only worth $500,000 based on its current performance. After organizing a professional evaluation, you find that it’s valued at $1.4 million due to its market share and overall potential.
If you had never hired a professional, you would have missed out on hundreds of thousands of dollars. For many people, this is a life-changing amount of money.
Don’t Hide or Dissipate Assets
You’ll only hurt your case if you attempt to hide or dissipate your assets. In some scenarios, deceptive behavior can even have legal consequences.
Instead, you should be honest and transparent about everything you own. Don’t make the mistake of assuming you will retain ownership of your assets if you hide them.
Find the Right Family Lawyer
To protect your belongings, it’s imperative to work with the right attorney. They have the tools and resources necessary to help you overcome the challenges you face. Before making your decision, research their past reputation.
See what other people online have to say about the experiences they had. However, it’s essential to stay wary of fake reviews.
These are typically posted in batches and often contain similar formatting. You should also consider their pricing structure. Not all attorneys are created equal, and you should avoid the cheapest options you encounter.
However, this doesn’t mean you need to stretch your budget to find a suitable option. Somewhere in the middle of the industry’s price range can satisfy your needs without requiring you to overspend. Pay attention to how they build their clients.
Some attorneys charge hourly rates, while others charge flat fees. The last thing you want is to encounter financial surprises. Do they seem enthusiastic about your project?
You should never hire someone who isn’t interested in helping you. Firms like these are sure to fall short of your goals.
You can assess their level of interest by paying attention to how many questions they ask about your divorce. Reputable firms will want to know as much as possible.
Don’t be afraid to shop around before making a decision. It’s best to create a shortlist and compare your potential options. With a bit of due diligence, you should have no trouble making the best decision for your situation.
Leverage These Asset Protection Tips
Without taking the right steps, you risk losing many of your valuable assets. The tips from a family lawyer in this guide will help make sure you sufficiently protect what belongs to you and navigate your divorce appropriately.
KFFJ Law has served the Northern Virginia market for over three decades. We emphasize exceeding all of our clients’ expectations and helping them achieve the best results for their situation. You can learn more about the many benefits we provide when you book a consultation today.