During the course of a typical divorce is common for spouses to run into problems associated with one another. Not only are you trying to coordinate an exit strategy from your marriage with your spouse, but you are also having to manage familial, relational, emotional, and financial aspects of your marriage in one process. This provides ample opportunity for both of you 2 be at odds with the other and disagree about any number of these subjects. While it is true that most divorces are not as dramatic and contentious as television may have you believe, it will be and for the not to be any disagreements in your divorce.
This is just the reality of most divorces. I am not trying to dissuade you from getting a divorce, necessarily. If you can avoid a divorce and maintain your marriage, then I don't think there is anyone who would try to stop you. However, it is clear to both you and your spouse that you need a divorce then you should be prepared for some activities and behaviors during the divorce that are troublesome and difficult to get past from an emotional or practical standpoint. It is best to understand this and then too move past it once you have taken steps to prepare for it.
Let's spend our time in today's blog post focusing on financial and community property related aspects of divorce. Divorce is about more than just money, but today's blog post wells be devoted almost entirely to this subject. I want to share with you some perspective on a subject that hopefully will not be a part of your divorce but that I can tell you from experience can end up being an important part of the process.
The subject that I am referring to is the hiding of assets by your spouse in the divorce. Your spouse may be motivated to hide assets from you for a variety of reasons. However, whatever the reason is this sort of behavior can hurt your case a great deal and prolong the process for everyone involved.
How complex your divorce is will determine the likelihood of asset hiding
Many divorces are not complex at all from a financial perspective. If you own a small home with the mortgage, rent at home and have no mortgage, have little in retirement and only a simple savings and checking account at a credit union Then the ability for you to hide assets is probably minimal. The reason why you probably won't be hiding assets is because you don't have any beyond your savings at the credit union then you lack the means by which to hide assets in the first place. This is not a judgment on you, but it is a frank assessment of where most people are financially. My wife and I have a very straightforward financial plan that we employ in our lives and would probably fall into the “simple” category as far as our financial lives are concerned.
On the other hand, some of you reading this blog post may have much more complicated and detailed financial lives. You may be high earners whose incomes outpace most of the people living around you. Or, you may not be a high earner, but you may have complicated business dealings or investments that provides you with more of a cover to hide assets if that were to be a goal of yours. Still others have debts that they have been afraid to share with their spouse and have been hiding for years. If any of these circumstances describe you, or if you think these circumstances described your spouse, then you ought to pay attention to the remainder of today's blog post.
Have a plan for dividing property before your divorce begins
The best advice that I can give to anyone preparing for a divorce is to have a plan and to be intentional throughout the process. Being intentional means having a reason As to why you do anything associated with your divorce. I get the impression that many people go through divorce do so with an overall goal of being divorced at the end of the process but have not thought of the concrete steps it takes to get there. Rather than drifting through your divorce and expecting your attorney to make decisions for you it is better to have goals in mind and plans on how to get there. This means starting before the divorce begins hi having a goal setting session with yourself.
Meeting with an experienced family law attorney regarding your divorce is critical. It is especially critical to those of you who have complex cases in the area of your personal finances. Many times, you may have a divorce upcoming which includes a small business operated by your spouse that you have little to no knowledge of. Your spouse may own A business that you have stepped foot inside of but you have no knowledge of the operations and no idea about the assets or debts associated with it. All you know is that when you need to go to the grocery store your debit card always has money to spend.
This is a dangerous situation for you to put yourself in and one that I would do everything you could to avoid. A big part of avoiding a scenario like that would be to hire an experienced family law attorney who is capable of helping you uncover assets and debts and examined finances with a keen eye for detail. What you want to avoid is a situation where assets or deaths were missed in the divorce and you somehow became responsible for them when your case was set all said and done. It is important to note that you will not be able to reopen your divorce case to settle these debts or assign ownership to particular assets.
Whomever makes the financial decisions in your family will hold a distinct advantage in the divorce
Based on my experiences working with folks who are getting divorced, it seems that most families have one spouse handle the finances and the other spouse handle other areas of the marriage. As I was alluding to earlier in today's blog post, if you are the spouse who does not have direct control over the earning of income, or the finances in general then you are at a distinct disadvantage in your divorce. The reason why you are at a disadvantage is because a great deal of your case depends on specific knowledge of your finances and how to approach that issue in your case.
If you lack a sound knowledge of your personal financial situation Then there is no way that you can attempt to negotiate in good faith with your spouse. You would be doing yourself and your spouse a disservice by attempting to do so without specific knowledge of where things are in your family as far as property, assets and debts. In order so that you can avoid problems negotiating in this regard I would recommend that you begin to organize documents like tax returns, retirement statements and even checking account statements in order to have a better idea about what sort of assets are in play for your divorce.
These sort of documents are the bedrock or the backbone to most families in their financial circumstances. A tax return is especially important because you can probably figure out what sort of property is owned in your marriage if you did not already know. If your spouse owns a small business, you can learn about what sort of income the business generated as well as what the costs of running that business are. You may also learn more about the assets owned by the business as well as any debts in curd in running that business on a daily basis.
In the event that you are unable to put into practice any of the other pieces of advice I'm about to give you, I would recommend at least following through with this first piece of advice. The reality is that if you take basic steps to protect yourself by examining closely financial documents that are so basic like tax returns you can put yourself in a position to negotiate in good faith with your spouse during the divorce. A solid, basic knowledge of your personal finances is more than many people going through divorce end up having.
Examine the behavior of your spouse in relation to your finances
The final thrust of today's blog post will focus on your needing to examine closely the behavior of your spouse in relation to your finances. It is not enough for you to assume that your spouse is being honest with you about your personal financial situation. The more knowledge you have of your personal finances the more trusting you could be. However, if you have been lax in the past about keeping up with anything happened to do with finances then you most certainly should not take anything for granted in this regard for your divorce.
Dividing your community estate in the divorce not only impacts this one area of your case but impacts you in many others as well. For example, child support and spousal maintenance after the divorce conclude depend in large part on how much community property you are able to walk away with. If you do not get a fair share of the community property pool, then the amount of child support or the amount of spousal support you are eligible to receive may be impacted as well. Do not take anything for granted and do not assume that one area of your case does not impact other areas. A divorce is a complex ecosystem where many different systems impact many others.
Take a look at your bank statements and look to see if withdrawals or deposits are made on a regular basis or if large amounts of money are taken out or deposited at seemingly random intervals. You will want to identify patterns and look for the source of income. You and your attorney can do a little legwork to determine where income is sourced and whether or not your spouse has reasonable explanations for any activity that appears to be suspicious. Trust your spouse but also do the legwork to verify that what he or she is saying is accurate.
You should be wary of bills or other statements not being sent to your home address instead being diverted to their spouse’s business. If you become aware that your spouse is making debt payments that you were not aware of then you have a potentially big problem to sort through in your divorce. Going through your checking statement line by line in item by item is a very basic but solid way to determine where your money is being spent. If you see credit cards that you were unaware of or other creditors listed then you need to either ask your spouse about these issues or pull your credit report to determine what bills, if any are listed in your name.
A huge problem that you will want to avoid is having debts being taken out in your name that you were unaware of. Some spouses will take such liberties with their partners information An identity that they will actually attempt to take out debt without their other spouse knowing about it. This is a major violation of trust and is illegal behavior on top of that. these are issues that can be sorted through but are more easily dealt with during the divorce than afterwards.
Questions about the material contained in today's blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the material contained in today's blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultation six days a week in person, over the phone and via video. Thank you for your interest in our law office and we hope you will return to our blog tomorrow as we continue to post more unique content regarding the world of Texas family law.