Hartley, Maxwell, & Castellano Attorneys at Law
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Five ways to protect your financial assets during a divorce

There is no such thing as an easy divorce. Emotions are at elevated levels, stress is at its peak, and that's true even if the split is amicable. Most marriages that are ending leave in their wake hurt feelings and even some animosity. Although things may start out well, when it comes time to discuss separation of assets, child custody, child support, visitation, and alimony, compromises may not come easily and disagreements will likely arise.

Remember, you are not just ending a civil relationship. A divorce also means an end to a financial partnership. And chances are that each spouse has different ideas and opinions as to how it should all be sorted out. Feelings of anger or animosity could cause one spouse to try to damage the other financially, so it's necessary to take steps to protect your assets during a divorce. How?

Know your assets

First, know exactly what you have. This includes all of your material property - vehicles, jewelry, artwork, heirlooms, collectibles, etc. Also, know exactly what you have in investments, bank accounts and business assets. Take photos of valuable items - make sure they are time-stamped - and keep these photos in a secure location. They may be important evidence if something turns up missing. Taking photos or videos of what is in drawers, cabinets, and closets is a good idea as well.

Open your own accounts

If you're sure that divorce is inevitable, open new checking and savings accounts in your name only, and use a different bank than the one(s) you and your spouse have; you want your financial activity to be both separate and private. Also, open a credit card or two in your name only so you can begin to establish your own credit record separate from your spouse.

Organize your financial records

Your financial records need to be in good order. Have complete records and information going back at least five years. You should make sure you have records relating to payroll and income, statements for investments and bank accounts, tax records, and any paperwork related to property. It is highly recommended that you make duplicates of all of these documents and keep them in a safe place, preferably a safe deposit box or with a trusted friend.

Reduce your expenses

The fact is, it costs money to get a divorce. These expenses need to be factored into your budget, along with the knowledge that after the divorce, you'll be depending on only one income. As a result, it's wise to reduce and cut down on expenses. Know how much you need, know your limitations, and stay within your budget.

Monitor your credit

Check your credit report regularly. Hurt feelings or anger may cause one spouse to try to damage the other's credit. Cancel joint credit cards, and check the status of debt that you and your spouse share. If anything looks suspicious or out of the ordinary, tell your attorney right away.

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Hartley, Maxwell, & Castellano Attorneys at Law