Divorce can cause so much headache and grief particularly if an amicable settlement cannot be reached. Property division is usually one of the major conflicts that have to be resolved legally when ownership of valuable pieces of property are being contested. Below are some ways for you to be able to protect your assets during a divorce.
- The first thing that you need to do is to hire a very competent divorce lawyer. There are certain divorce laws that are applicable only to selected states and your lawyer will be able to help you on which laws are applicable to your case.
- If you have family heirlooms that were given to you alone, whether before or after the marriage, take photographs of these heirloom pieces and have these documented. Ask your relative to provide a written document that the heirloom have been as a gift only to you and should not be part of the community property acquired by you and your spouse during your marriage that have to be divided during a divorce. Include statements from any witnesses to support your sole claim for the heirlooms. Take the photographs of these items while they are still inside your home before removing them to a safe location that cannot be accessed by your spouse.
- Photograph all the tangible assets in the house, including other properties and keep the photographs in a safe place. Identify all the properties that have been acquired and belong to the community property list for you and your spouse. Have all the property evaluated to get the actual fair market value of all of your community properties. This will help in determining how much will be divided. Fair market value is the actual amount of each item, which will be treated as used or second hand. For example, if you had bought an LCD television for one thousand five hundred dollars, it will be computed based on resale value of the television and not on the original price that you have paid for the television.
- Even if you have moved out of your house and your spouse has changed the locks, you are still entitled to the items that belong exclusively to you that are left inside your house unless there is a special court order that grants your spouse exclusive rights to these items. You can hire a locksmith to open the door or even break a window to get inside the house.
- Make sure that you close joint banks and checking accounts and credit cards that you and your spouse jointly use. Even if you are already divorced and the cards and bank accounts are not settled, you will still be responsible for bouncing checks and paying for credit card purchases even if your were not the one who made the purchases or issued the checks.
- Revise documents where you have made your spouse as the beneficiary to avoid disputes. You will need proper legal advice to be able to settle this. If you and your spouse are operating a business make sure that this is properly assessed and evaluated so that it can be divided rightfully.
Make sure that you consult with a very good divorce lawyer as soon as you contemplate getting a divorce so that you will know your rights, the divorce laws applicable in your state and how to best protect your assets.