Divorce is an emotionally taxing experience, but it’s also a time when critical financial decisions need to be made. Protecting your assets during this tumultuous time is paramount, and it requires strategic planning and a clear understanding of your legal rights. This blog aims to provide a guide on how to safeguard your assets during a divorce, and why consulting a Rockland County, NY family law lawyer is crucial.
Understanding Marital Property
Before you can protect your assets, you must first understand how they are classified. In New York, property acquired during marriage is generally considered marital property, regardless of whose name is on the title. This includes homes, cars, savings accounts, retirement accounts, and even debts. Marital property is subject to equitable distribution, which means it will be divided fairly, but not necessarily equally, between both parties.
Separate property, on the other hand, includes assets acquired before the marriage, gifts, inheritances, and personal injury awards. Separate property typically remains with the individual who owns it, but it can become marital property if it’s commingled with shared assets.
Taking Inventory And Valuing Assets
Once you understand how your assets will be classified, take a comprehensive inventory of all your assets and liabilities. Be sure to include everything, even items you consider to be separate property. Next, assign a monetary value to each asset. This may require appraisals for real estate, businesses, or valuable personal property.
It’s also important to gather documentation for all assets and liabilities, including bank statements, mortgage statements, and retirement account statements. Having a complete and accurate financial picture is essential for protecting your assets.
Protecting Your Assets
With a clear understanding of your financial situation, you can take steps to protect your assets:
Avoid Commingling Assets: Keep separate property separate. Do not deposit inheritance money into a joint bank account, and do not use marital funds to pay for separate property.
Close Joint Accounts: To prevent your spouse from draining joint bank accounts, close them or convert them to individual accounts.
Be Mindful of Debt: Understand that debt acquired during the marriage is also considered marital property. Work to pay down joint debts and avoid incurring new debts.
Consider a Prenuptial Agreement: Although this is a preventative measure that must be taken before marriage, a prenuptial agreement can protect your assets in the event of a divorce.
Consult a Lawyer: A Rockland County, NY family law lawyer can provide valuable advice tailored to your specific situation. They can help you navigate the legal process and ensure your rights are protected.
Divorce is never easy, but taking steps to protect your assets can provide peace of mind and financial security. Understanding your legal rights, taking inventory of your assets, and consulting a qualified lawyer are crucial steps in this process. At Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman, P.C., we understand the complexities of divorce and are here to help guide you through every step. Let’s work together to protect your future and secure the assets you’ve worked hard to acquire. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.