Divorces are difficult, and unfortunately, high-asset divorces are often even more cumbersome, simply because there is a lot more to fight over.
If you want to make it out of a high-asset divorce (or nearly any divorce for that matter) with your assets protected and your livelihood in tact, here are five easy things you can do:
1. Educate yourself.
If you took a back seat in your family’s financial dealings, now is the time to pay close attention to what you and your spouse jointly hold. The more you understand about your family’s personal and business assets, the more prepared you will be to negotiate what you want. More importantly, you will be able to recognize a fair (or unfair) settlement when you see it.
2. Look for hidden assets.
If artwork, jewelry, baseball card collections, or even cars go missing, you’d likely notice. However, your spouse might not count on you noticing unusual transfers out of your joint account. Keep an eye out for payments to non-existent bills or bogus “business” expenses – these transactions are likely a way for your partner to hide cash while your assets are still held as community property.
3. Keep records.
California laws make it very clear that in the event of a divorce, each spouse must disclose all of their financial information and assets. This is because California is a strict community property state, which means almost all property acquired during the marriage is to be divided between you and your spouse 50/50.
If you acquired any assets separate from your spouse’s money that you wish to keep, you will need proof of where those assets originally came from, including: wills, trusts, bank statements, and insurance policies. Start collecting any records you can now so that you and your attorney can use them as a starting point for negotiations.
4. Keep future costs in mind.
Be smart about what assets you choose to keep. Simply put, it won’t do you any good to keep the family vacation home if you can’t afford the payments and upkeep.
5. Be upfront about your assets
You can try to deceive your spouse by hiding or concealing assets, but don’t forget that you would also be messing with the law. If what you’re hiding is discovered, you will lose your credibility in court and you could also be met with stiff penalties, including monetary sanctions. To protect yourself and your property during a divorce, it is best to declare all assets upfront.
By being honest about your assets, you can set the tone for future negotiations with your spouse and, hopefully, come to an agreement that allows you to keep most or all of what you have tucked away.
Ultimately, you want to work with an attorney who will listen to your goals and help you achieve the closest possible outcome to those goals. Sturtevant Law is here to help you navigate and negotiate through your divorce with as little conflict as possible. For more information or to set up a consultation, please visit our Contact page.