Divorces are often extremely stressful matters which tend to have a significant impact, not only on your life, but on your assets and finances as well. Divorces are usually very expensive affairs. This expense should be borne equally by both the partners in an ideal world. However, in reality, without proper legal counsel, you stand to lose more than you may realize, which is why your first course of action should be to hire a good divorce lawyer in Tucson in order to ensure a good outcome for you.
1. What Should You Do To Protect Yourself
When you file for a divorce, the court decides what property belongs to the both of you and what property is separate. In a divorce, your separate property stays with you and your marital property gets distributed between you both. Which is why the first thing you should do is find out what you and your spouse owns. Making a proper list of marital property and separate property can help you in finding out what needs to be protected.
2. Marital property vs Separate Property
You may be wondering what counts as marital property and what counts as separate property. Allow us to explain.
3. Marital Property
Usually, whatever property you acquire after your marriage counts as marital property. A lot of people are under the impression that if they have paid for themselves, it is going to be theirs after the divorce. However, they are wrong. Anything that has been acquired after your marriage, regardless of who paid for it, is considered marital property. This can include:
- Real Estate
- Bank Accounts
- Retirement Plans, which includes your IRA accounts and 401k plans.
- Business Proceeds and Assets
- Antiques and Collections
- College Savings that you may have saved on the behalf of your children
You may think all of the above would be distributed equally, but different states have different laws. Some states follow the law of equitable distribution. While it may sound a lot like equal distribution, it involves the court dividing the property in a manner that is fair to the partners based on their financial resources, their income, their monetary obligations and the circumstances surrounding the divorce.
Arizona, along with a few other states, follows the rules of community property laws, where property is distributed fairly amongst both partners. While separate property stays with the owner, the division of marital property is equal, regardless of the circumstances. To ensure that the distribution of property remains fair and equal, you should get in touch with a prestigious Tucson law firm to provide you with strong legal advice and advocate strongly on your behalf.
1. Separate Property
Separate property is whatever you have acquired before your marriage and whatever you acquire after your divorce. This includes assets you may receive from a relative of yours in the form of inheritance of gifts made to you by someone.
3. Commingling of Assets
There are ways that separate property can turn into marital property, depending on your actions. For example, if you are left a house as a part of your inheritance, it is your separate property. However, if you then add your partner’s name on the deed and move into the house, it turns into marital property. Even if you haven’t added your partner’s name to the deed, if you have used marital funds in order to improve the property in any way, while the house still remains yours, your partner may be entitled to any increase in that property’s value, since this increase in value is contributed to the result of the improvements that were made, rather than the result of increase in the value of property over time.
Money that you receive as inheritance belongs to you until you put it in a joint account shared by you and your spouse. Once you do that, it turns into marital property and is subject to divorce laws.
4. How To Protect Your Property During Your Divorce
Divorces can be headache inducing matters if there is a disagreement between you and your partner about the distribution of property. The first thing that we advise you to do is get in touch with a good Tucson az lawyer who specializes in divorces and asset protection in order to get good legal advice. While we may be able to give you a general idea of how things work, each situation is unique and you will benefit from strong legal advice from an attorney who is aware of the details of your case.
Aside from getting a good lawyer, here are some things you can do to protect yourself and your assets.
- Prenuptial and Postnuptial agreements can be a great way to safeguard your assets. These are agreements that can be made before or during your marriage that outlines how property will be distributed between partners in the event of a divorce and also the amount that may be provided as child support. Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements take precedence over any divorce laws.
- Creating an inventory of all assets that are owned by you and your spouse jointly and separately is a great idea. This involves properties, bank accounts, 401k’s and investment accounts.This will give you an idea about who owns what and who has access to them.
- Do not withdraw money from joint bank accounts. You may feel tempted to do so in order to protect your money. However, before you do so, you may want to consult with your lawyer, as doing so may be prohibited by law.
- Open a separate bank account if you don’t already have one. Depending on the circumstances, your attorney may advise you to take money from joint accounts in order to fund your new account. If you do so, make sure you let your partner know about it and make your intentions known. Document any transfers that you make.
Divorces can be difficult matters and tend to cause a massive drain on one’s finances. Make sure that you prepare for this by following these tips and by getting a good attorney in order to ensure fairness during the distribution process.