Divorce can be a difficult time mentally, emotionally, and financially. While the main focus of a divorce may be to end a marriage in a fair and way, it always is important to ensure that your individual assets are protected. This is particularly true where there may be children from a previous marriage to consider or if another marriage is on the horizon.
Steps to Protect Assets
Here are a number of stops you should take before entering a divorce:
- Inventory Valuables – start keeping track of possessions that are personal or heirlooms. This can include anything other the sun you would like to keep in your possession. Making a photograph and list of each item will help ensure they do not wind up getting taken into consideration as divisible property during a divorce
- Document and Prove Gifts and Inheritances – asking a family member or other individual to offer written proof that property is a gift or inheritance can guarantee it stays with the rightful owner.
- Compile Financial Records – putting together bank statements, investment portfolios, retirement accounts, tax documents, and even the one spouses benefits that the other was eligible for will help a judge evaluate whose property is whose, and whether compensation for benefits is in order.
- Separate Bank Accounts – once a separation occurs, creating an individual checking account and credit card can help establish independence and financial stability when the divorce occurs.
- Keep Track of All Property – guaranteeing one spouse is not wrongfully selling or encumbering property, otherwise taking loans subjecting property to liens or other outstanding debts can help avoid property getting lost altogether.
- Consider Trust Funds – certain types of trust funds, such as "collapsing bridge" trusts or discretionary trusts (depending on the state) can help ensure assets are protected for children, grandchildren and other beneficiaries.
Seeking Legal Advice
The above are just considerations, and if you are facing a divorce, the most important step you can do is hiring a family law attorney. A local family law attorney will be able to help you successfully navigate the often complicated and emotional process of divorce as painlessly as possible.