Protecting Your Assets in a Contentious Divorce
While some divorcing couples are able to reach an amicable agreement on the division of their assets and debts, others struggle with reaching a compromise on even the smallest of details. These cases, which are often referred to as “contentious divorces,” can cost couples a great deal of both time and money. Learn how you can protect your assets in such a divorce, and discover what our seasoned Illinois divorce attorneys can do to improve the outcome in your case.
Is Your Divorce at Risk for Contentious Proceedings?
Perhaps the best way to protect one’s self in a contentious divorce is to determine, as soon as possible, if negotiations may turn hostile. First, consider your wealth class.
Marriages with an exceptionally high net worth (typically over $5 million dollars) tend to end with little fighting, as parties recognize that peaceful negotiations are one of the most effective ways to protect their wealth. Of course, parties may still become greedy during the proceedings, or they may feel the need to be vindictive toward their former spouse. As a result, individuals may attempt to either hide or spend (dissipate) assets in order to keep them away from their spouse.
Couples who have a moderate amount of wealth have been found to have some of the most contentious asset divisions. Financial and relationship experts say this is because they have just enough money to enjoy a slightly enhanced lifestyle, but they are not wealthy enough to never fret over money. In fact, some may be at risk of losing their financial and social standing in the divorce; that alone can be enough to drive someone into asset hiding or asset dissipation.
Couples with few assets may not have as much to fight over, but the stakes are often higher for the individual parties. If one spouse was considered to be at a disadvantage in the marriage (i.e. disabled, stayed home to care for children, etc.), that party’s risk of financial devastating increases even further. Fear over this happening can cause tempers to flare.
Parties who have children may also be at risk for issues during the asset division process. A parent may attempt to use money as a way to gain more time with their child, or they may be unwilling to provide the amount of support that is being requested (i.e. alimony or child support).
Protecting Your Assets in a Messy Divorce
Although every divorce case is unique, there are some strategies that can be used to protect one’s assets in almost any situation.
- Strive for compromise in negotiations (even if your spouse is unwilling to meet you halfway);
- Ensure you have a clear understanding of your marital debts and assets. Seek a professional valuation on businesses, real estate property, family heirlooms, and other valuable items;
- Hire a financial advisor and/or tax consultant to look over and guide you in your situation;
- Carefully weigh the possible pros and cons of taking each specific asset in a settlement. For example, it may not be feasible for you to keep the family home if you do not have the liquid assets to cover the mortgage, cost of upkeep, and tax load;
- Evaluate why certain assets are important to you. Is the attachment purely sentimental, or does the item have clear value? If the former is true, you may want to reconsider whether the asset is worth fighting over;
- Close or settle any joint accounts and remove your spouse as an authorized user on any accounts on which you are considered the owner or debtor;
- Do not move either yourself or money until you have spoken with a seasoned divorce lawyer.
Contact Our Wheaton Divorce Lawyers
If you are planning to file for divorce, or you suspect that your spouse has already filed, contact Davi Law Group, LLC for a personalized, no-obligation consultation. Seasoned and experienced, our DuPage County divorce attorneys can assist you with every step of your divorce process, and we can help you prepare for the possibility of a messy divorce, long before the proceedings begin. Call 630-580-6373 to contact our offices.