HOW TO PROTECT YOUR ASSETS IN THE EVENT OF A DIVORCE
- Consult with an attorney that concentrates on divorce and family law.
- Gather all your financial records for the last three years since you are going to need them in order to assist your attorney in preparing your Probate Court 401 financial statement and in order to respond to Probate Court Rule 410 regarding mandatory self disclosure.
- Make copies of all of your important financial records including but not limited to all bank, investment, retirement accounts and income tax returns including W2s, 1099s, schedules and attachments for the past three years belonging to both you and your spouse and put them in a safe place that your spouse does not have access to.
- Open a separate checking and savings accounts in your name alone if you do not already have them.
- Establish credit in your own name alone by obtaining a credit card in your name alone if you do not already have one.
- Make sure you have complete information regarding your health and dental insurance benefits including the name of the provider, your id number and any cards necessary to receive services if you are covered under a policy through your spouse’s employer.
- If possible attempt to locate and make copies of the most recent statements from any bank, investment or retirement accounts in your spouse’s name alone.
- If your spouse owns their own business you may be able to locate and make copies of their business records for the past three years. You may be able to make copies of computer files of business records on software programs such as Quickbooks. It would also be very helpful to have copies of their business bank statements and cancelled checks as well any business tax returns.
- Do not comingle any money you receive from an inheritance or gift with any marital funds or put same in a joint account with your spouse.
- Make an inventory of particularly valuable items that belong to both you and/or your spouse including antiques, artwork, collections, boats, RVS, motorcycle, antique automobiles, items used for sport and hobbies, firearms, etc. Determine if there are any items of tangible personal property that you consider “family heirlooms”, valuable antiques. If you and/or your spouse own any valuable antiques, art works, jewelry or collections you definitely should take pictures if possible and probably should consider an appraisal for particularly valuable items if you can not agree with your spouse divide these items as part of the property settlement.
- Locate your marriage certificate since your attorney will need to file it with the court along with the Complaint for Divorce.
- Your spouse is prohibited by an automatic restraining order effective immediately upon being served with the complaint for divorce. The restraining order remains in effect until modified by agreement of the parties or order of the court. The automatic restraining order prohibits:
“(1) Neither party shall sell, transfer, encumber, conceal, assign, remove or in any way dispose of any property, real or personal, belonging to or acquired by either party, except: (a) as required for reasonable expenses of living; (b) in the ordinary and usual course of investing; (d) for payment of reasonable attorney’s fees and costs in connection with the action; (e) written agreement of both parties; or (f) by Order of the Court.
(2) Neither party shall incur any further debts that would burden the credit of the other party, including but not limited to further borrowing against any credit line secured by the marital residence or unreasonably using credit cards or cash advances against credit or bank cards;
(3) Neither party shall directly or indirectly change the beneficiary of any life insurance policy, pension or retirement plan, or pension or retirement investment account, except with the written consent of the other party or by Order of the court.
(4) Neither party shall directly or indirectly cause the other party or the minor child(ren) to be removed from the coverage under an existing insurance policy, including medical, dental, life, automobile, and disability insurance. The parties shall maintain all insurance coverage in full force and effect.”