Posted on: 20 June 2017Share
Divorce can get ugly, especially when it comes to money. While it's true that there are penalties for hiding assets in divorce proceedings, sometimes that doesn't stop a spouse who doesn't agree with getting a divorce from being spiteful. If you are contemplating getting a divorce from your spouse and you already know that doing so would start the mother of all legal battles, there are several important things to do before filing for divorce to protect the marital assets.
Go to every bank you have and get printouts of each account. Get every retirement account and investment fund documented as well. While your online portals may give you this ability, you want to have the printouts done by the bank instead. That way, there won't be any risk of your spouse saying that you falsified the documents.
If possible, have them printout the entire history of each account as far back as they can up until your wedding date. Doing this will not only show the exact amount of money you have in each account right before you file for divorce, but it might also shed light on whether or not your spouse has already been secretly removing money from the accounts, which could mean they've already been hiding some of the marital assets.
Pull credit reports for yourself and for your spouse. Look through everything listed in each credit report to see who the creditors are and if there are any discrepancies in what you know about you and your spouse's creditors. It's important to clear up all discrepancies before filing for divorce so they do not affect the proceedings. For example, if a credit card company says you owe a higher amount than you actually do, this could result in a miscalculation of debt accumulated during the marriage.
Also, your personal credit report is good to have for after the divorce is finalized. It will give you a starting point should you need to increase your credit score afterwards. You will also be able to compare the pre-divorce credit report to a post-divorce credit report to determine whether or not creditors have been satisfied as per the divorce decree.
If you have any real estate that was purchased during the marriage, you'll want documentation of them as well. Go to your courthouse and do a search for both you and your spouse's names in the land records office. Print out each document you find and have the court official notarize the documents as official.
Hire a real estate appraiser to appraise the value of each real estate property that was purchased during the marriage. Of course, if you don't want your spouse to know what you are doing, particularly if they have anger management issues, you will want to schedule these appraisals when your spouse is not around or come up with a verifiable reason why you want appraisals done on the property.
If any valuables were purchased during the marriage, have them appraised, such as jewelry, antiques, collectible items, vehicles, tools, and equipment. While these types of items can and likely be split equally in a divorce, the only way for a judge to be able to do that is for him or her to know the value of the items.
If you are having a difficult time finding appraisers for certain items, contact your homeowner's insurance company. They often assist homeowners with finding appraisers for insurance coverage purposes. Alternatively, contact the American Society of Appraisers or visit their website for a list of appraisers in your area.
For more information on divorce, contact a firm such as Gordon Liebmann Attorneys at Law.