Divorce is rarely easy. The process of separating unified lives can be long, arduous, and filled with emotional strain. This is particularly true for the process of dividing marital property between spouses and determining who will get to keep what as well as what will happen to some of the marriage’s most important assets. When a marriage has a substantial amount of these assets, including complex assets, the process can become even more complex and confusing. However, as with other aspects of your divorce, proper preparation can make things much easier to complete. Here are some things you can do to prepare if you are about to undergo the property division process in a high-asset divorce.
Obtain Records: Did you have a valuable work of art, piece of intellectual property, or some other type of valuable property that you brought into the marriage? In general, these items are considered to be “individual property,” and it should be exempt from the property division process. If you do have something like this, you’ll want the records to prove it. Your attorney will help you determine what qualifies as individually-held property, and you’ll be able to verify this claim by having records that prove its status.
Look Out for Shady Practices: Unfortunately, some spouses in high-asset divorces don’t always want to play fair, and this leads to a number of questionable practices to try to hide certain assets from the other in order to prevent them from being split. Does your partner have a valuable antique diamond necklace that suddenly and inexplicably went missing? Has the value of an investment portfolio suddenly dipped in half? These are all signs that someone might be trying to hide assets, which is both illegal and highly frowned-upon.
As with the previous point, having records of ownership and valuation can help you sniff out any shady conduct that your spouse might be trying to use to get the upper hand in the divorce. This is particularly true for things like retirement accounts, investments, savings, and more, so obtain copies of your bank statements for the last several months so you can show exactly where your marriage stands financially.
Take Your Portion: Property is supposed to be divided “equitably” during a divorce, and this might mean you end up with something you never needed or even wanted as a part of the final settlement. Don’t necessarily let that stop you from taking it, however. Items can be sold and their monetary value added to your assets obtained in the divorce. Therefore, never refuse something that’s being offered to you, especially if its’ valuable; just because you don’t want something or have no interest in it doesn’t mean it can’t be useful or valuable to your final outcome.
Don’t Assume Anything: Spousal support or child support are designed to help one spouse keep the same standard of living as they had during their marriage, provided they can’t maintain it on their own. People who assume they will be given alimony or child support often make mistakes or poor judgements during the property division process, thinking they’ll get more from these other provisions. These people are sometimes shocked when they find out they haven’t been awarded either of them. Always make sure you get your half of the property, and never leave this up to chance.
Be Prepared Not to Get Exactly What You Want: That vacation home in Hawaii may be great, but is it really worth it? This is an extremely valuable asset, and being able to keep it outright will involve having to give up a lot of other assets in exchange. When you consider this cost, plus the cost of maintaining it, renting it out, paying taxes and maintenance on it, and more, you have to consider whether or not it really makes financial sense. One of the biggest mistakes people make during property division is to pursue these assets too aggressively, and they wind up realizing after a few years that it really wasn’t worth it. Consider your lifestyle and how much something might cost in the long run before you decide whether you want to fight for it or sell it off and claim your share of the value.
Be Aware of Debts: Does your spouse have a nasty tendency to over-spend? Have they opened a dozen credit cards over the last two years and racked up tons of debt buying lavish things? If so, you’ll want to make sure you can point that out. Debts are treated very similarly to assets during a divorce, and if you’re not careful, you could wind up stuck with a ton of debt that you had nothing to do with accruing in the first place. Debts can go beyond credit cards as well: student loan debts, business debts, and more could all be potentially subject to the property division process.
Keep Track of Your Legal Expenses: Because of the amount of time and effort high-asset divorces can take, they are also prone to accruing a substantial amount of attorney and legal fees. You’ll want to keep track of these things because you could potentially include them as a part of your final asset division agreement. Keep multiple copies of your invoices and regularly ask your attorney for billing updates to keep an eye on how much you’re spending.Need help with your high-asset divorce case? Call Mitchell & West, LLC today by dialing (305) 783-3301 to receive high-quality representation and experienced counsel that’s custom-tailored to your divorce case!