There are a lot of things involved when you prepare for a divorce. Financial matters, for example, can be difficult to tackle, but need to be done to protect yourself after separating. Only you can know for sure whether your marriage is over. If you believe it is beyond saving, then you need to get ready for Arizona divorce proceedings.
Planning to protect yourself financially from your divorce does not make you vengeful or heartless. Just the opposite, it is a necessity and an intelligent thing to do. Being unprepared can negatively affect your future and your relationship with your children.
One cannot just muddle their way through divorce and expect favorable results. Things rarely work out right without a fair amount of divorce preparation.
It may come as a complete surprise when you first learn that your spouse plans to file a divorce. Equally surprising, they may already have done so. You must take certain steps to protect what you’ve worked so hard for and to secure your financial future as well.
How do I protect my assets from divorce?
How well you have prepared will affect the speed of the divorce process. If you and your spouse are not parting in a friendly way, here are some steps you can take to protect your interests:
Take stock of your marital belongings
As a necessary consequence of divorce, dividing everything you have acquired during your marriage begins with an inventory. Assets, as well as marital debts, are seen as community property and will be divided under Arizona law. All assets have value and you must take stock of all your belongings.
Make a written inventory of your personal property. These include:
- art and antiques collection
- entertainment system
- electronic items
- kitchenware, and other items
Making a detailed inventory may be overwhelming but it needs to be done. Use a smartphone or a digital camera to take date-stamped photos of valuable belongings. Date-stamped photos can provide evidence of any property damages (if applicable).
Go through your house room by room and take a series of photographs of items inside closets, cupboards, and other storage before writing them down on paper.
If you own a home or real property, have a real estate broker appraise your property to provide you with its current market value. Take photos to help with the appraisal process.
Gather all your important personal documents
Gather and make copies of your important personal records like a birth certificate and other vital documents. Include all jointly owned documents like bank statements, tax returns, titles, and real estate papers. Store all these documents in a safe place and furnish a copy to your spouse.
Avoid unnecessary spending
During this time, be conservative and limit your expenses to minimize debts. The more property, loans, and debts you incur, the more complicated the divorce process will be.
Secure your personal property
What about your personal property and valuable collections? Find another place to keep them for the moment, away from your current residence. It must be emphasized that this only applies to personal property and not to common or marital possessions acquired during your marriage. Meet with your spouse and discuss which items you regard as your personal belongings.
Guard your credit
Depending on whether you and your spouse are parting in an agreeable way, you may need to freeze or close your joint credit cards. If you don’t want to be held accountable for their continued spending, call your credit company to close the account to further purchases. You can then open a new account under your own name. This protects your credit score. After calling, write a dated, certified letter to the credit card company as proof of your communication.
You won’t be allowed to completely close the account if the balance is not fully paid, meaning you are responsible for the balance, interest, and other charges until you contact them.
Safeguard bank accounts and investments
If you fear being financially cleaned out by your soon-to-be ex, then you need to to safeguard your investments and bank accounts immediately. However, you need to do this cautiously as it can cause legal problems for you down the line.
A safe move is to call an attorney to ask them for legal advice. You may be directed to contact your bank or investment firm to request they freeze the accounts. As an alternative, you could change the account where both signatures are required for withdrawals instead of just one.
Do not sign anything
If your spouse or their lawyer asks you to sign anything, politely tell them that your lawyer has advised you not to sign any documents until your counsel have examined them. Unfortunately, many people have signed agreements and other legal documents that were later used against them in custody or property disputes.
Consult an attorney
The divorce process in Arizona can be complex and drawn out, especially if you and your spouse have children. Any decision you make during this process will affect the rest of your life. It’s best to consult our family law attorneys at Goldman Law, LLC to help you through the maze of potential legal issues related to your divorce.
Give us a call at (602) 698-5520 or email us through our contact form to schedule a consultation.