The best time to protect your assets isn’t after you’ve filed for divorce but before your relationship has begun to sour. Although you may be able to reach an amicable agreement about dividing your assets and handle your divorce with class, things could go awry during the divorce proceedings. The following are 7 steps to protecting your property in the event of a divorce.
Have a Prenuptial Agreement Drawn
Going through a divorce is one of life’s many stressful events. If you have a significant number of assets, one of the safest ways to protect your property before you get married is with a prenuptial agreement. Drawn up by a professional, committed in writing, signed and notarized, it’s a clear arrangement of what is yours and your spouses. The document can also be drawn postnuptial and typically override laws within your state.
Consult with a Divorce Attorney
Divorce can become extremely complicated, especially during property and asset division. A skilled divorce attorney will protect your rights and aggressively fight for your share of marital property. They’ll also be able to guide you along the way to ensure that you get the true value of your assets. It’s also important to find an attorney who is compassionate, available and has your best interests in mind.
Stay Current with Financial Records
If you’re going through a divorce, you’re going to need to round up your financial information. This includes bank accounts, savings, retirement, life insurance and estate assets. To avoid being shortchanged, it’s important to keep current with your possessions. This means keeping track of bank account totals, retirement figures, pension and other funds you have coming to you. When you’re meeting with your attorney, you’ll want to present him with the statements and other documentation, even if the documents have only your spouse’s name. You should also present copies of any 1099s, W2s, tax returns and schedule attachments for the previous three years of your marriage.
Keep Separate Property Your Own
If you and your spouse own property or assets solely before marriage, you shouldn’t have to worry about them. The assets are considered separate and exempt from the proceedings. Whether it’s an inheritance, property or money from an injury, if it was settled before marriage, you shouldn’t have to divide it. A prenuptial agreement drawn before marriage can paint a clearer picture that your spouse won’t be entitled to the asset in the case of a divorce.
Establish Your Own Credit
If you have joint accounts, it’s time to establish your own credit. You can start by opening a separate savings and checking account to handle your expenses. You should also apply for a credit card in your name only. If your divorce becomes difficult at any time, you’ll be prepared.
Health and Dental Insurance Cards Readily Available
You may need to go to the dentist or doctor before your divorce becomes final. Make sure that you have medical and dental cards, so you and your children can receive the required health services. The information should include the identification number, provider and name of employer on the policy.
Copy Self-Employed Business Records
Although your business may be in your spouse’s name, you still need to make copies of any records. From bank statements and tax returns to cancelled checks and deposit slips, the records will prove beneficial in dividing your assets. The software program used to document the company financials may also be admissible.
Keeping track of your assets and taking steps to protect your property is important, especially if your spouse is looking to take advantage of you. Hiring a skilled attorney and following the above steps are proactive solutions that can help you get your fair share in the event that your marriage ends in divorce.