If you want to ensure your financial stability post-divorce, then you need to have a solid game plan going into the property division process. Whether you expect to resolve this matter through negotiation or litigation, you need to know how to develop the legal arguments that best position you for success. While this means knowing what factors a court will consider when determining how to divide property equitably, it all starts with knowing constitutes the marital estate.
The importance of an accurate assessment of marital property
Have a clear understanding of the marital estate is key to your financial stability moving forward. This is because you’re only going to get your fair share of marital assets, and nothing that belongs to your spouse individually, or anything that simply is left out of the marital estate. Therefore, you need be diligent in identifying and including all everything you can in the marital estate.
In many instances, disputes arise over whether certain assets are individual or marital in nature. This is because assets that are individually owned, such as property owned prior to marriage and inheritances, can morph into marital property and therefore be subjected to property division. For example, the money in an individually owned bank account may become marital in nature if it is deposited into a jointly-held bank account or if it is used to pay for a mortgage with both individuals’ names on it.
Commingled assets can be enormously complicated. Consider if individual assets are used to maintain or build upon a business owned by the other spouse. Suddenly, the individual who had no interest in the business now may be entitled to part of it. But how much? That’s a big question that is at the heart of most issues regarding commingled assets.
Another problem that many people face when dealing with the marital estate is hidden assets. In far too many cases, a spouse tries to hide assets in a new individually owned bank account, physically stash cash away, or even retitle property in the name of a friend or family member. They might even intentionally squander marital assets away for their own enjoyment, knowing that doing so will prevent their spouse from getting their hands on their fair share of those assets during the property division process.
If you suspect that your spouse is hiding assets, then you need to do everything you can to prove it and bring those assets back into the marital estate. This might mean looking for red flags, such as unaccounted for or unjustified withdrawals from a jointly held bank account, and utilizing a forensic accountant.
Be confident in your approach to your marital estate
There’s too much at stake in your divorce to not aggressively assess your marital estate. If you simply let suspicions slide or take into account that you might be entitled to what at first glance appears to be individual property, then you could be cutting yourself short. That might mean being unable to live the same kind of life you enjoyed prior to divorce, or it could threaten your ability to adequately provide for your children or ensure stability during retirement.
That’s why it’s oftentimes in divorcing individuals’ best interests to work closely with a family law attorney of their choosing who knows how to fight for what is fair. These professionals can help analyze the facts of your case in light of the law and develop the arguments that you need to position yourself for success. If you’d like to learn more about what all that entails and receive a realistic analysis of your case, then don’t wait to talk to an attorney to develop your strategy.