Whether ending your marriage is your idea or you simply see the writing on the wall, once you know that the end of your marriage is imminent you should start preparing for the legal process of divorce that follows. Part of that process will involve the division of your assets. Fort Worth divorce lawyer Jon Boyd explains how to protect your assets when divorce is inevitable.
The division of assets and debts is an integral part of any divorce. The more valuable your marital assets are, the greater the likelihood that this part of the divorce process will become contentious. Understanding how the law treats assets during a divorce is crucial to protecting your assets. Legally, assets can be marital property or separate property. Assets acquired or earned during the marriage are usually classified as marital property unless the asset was a gift or part of an inheritance. Separate property refers to assets owned by a spouse prior to the marriage or to assets gifted to, or inherited by, a spouse during the marriage. Only marital property is part of the division of assets that occurs during a divorce. Texas is a community property state; however, that does not guarantee an equal division of assets in your divorce. If the court is forced to divide marital assets it will typically start with a 50/50 division of community property, but a judge can award either party more – or less – than half of the marital assets.
Although divorce is an emotional process, it also has very practical implications for both parties. The financial impact of a divorce is often not really felt until months, even years, after the fact. If you see divorce in your future, the following tips can help you protect your financial interests before it is too late:
Review a prenuptial agreement. Prenuptial agreements are becoming more popular as people are marrying later in life and/or entering into second (or subsequent) marriages. If you signed a prenuptial agreement prior to your marriage, the terms of that agreement will likely have a direct impact on the division of assets in your divorce. Review the agreement with your attorney immediately.
Consult with a divorce attorney. Do not wait until your spouse has served you with divorce papers or until you are 100 percent sure you want to initiate the process to consult with a divorce attorney. Take the time now to speak to an attorney so you know what to expect and what steps you can legally take to protect yourself if the divorce becomes a reality.
Do not make any significant career moves. Obviously, now is not the time to switch to a more lucrative job; however, it is also not the time to try and decrease your income in the hope of avoiding child/spousal support. If any of those issues are disputed, the court will likely look at actions you took in anticipation of the divorce and your attempt to reduce your financial exposure could work against you.
Avoid commingling assets. Co-mingling can convert separate property into marital property. Talk to your attorney about your specific situation; however, a common example is when one party uses funds from an inheritance to purchase marital assets, such as a residence. The inheritance was separate property; however, by using it to purchase marital property it was converted into a marital asset.
Do not try to hide assets. It can be tempting to try and withdraw funds or hide assets when you know a divorce is coming. Doing so, however, usually backfires for the party hoping to hide the assets. A forensic accounting can be ordered by the court. If that accounting uncovers attempts to hide assets, that fact will almost certainly be used by the court to order an uneven split of the marital assets in favor of your spouse.
If you are a father who has additional questions or concerns about divorce, contact an experienced Fort Worth divorce lawyer at Boyd Family Law to discuss your legal rights and options and to schedule your appointment today.