5 Tips to Protect Your Finances during Your Divorce
A key component of a winning divorce is settling upon financial arrangements that will meet the needs of you and your family. To protect your financial assets, it is critical to get legal advice from an experienced divorce lawyer. This article will review some topics you should discuss with your divorce lawyer.
Gather Detailed Financial Records
The best way you can protect your finances is to gather information as quickly as possible. Evidence can help your lawyer prepare the best strategy to protect your interests and help prepare to counter arguments your spouse’s lawyer will use.
Ideally you will consult with a lawyer before you start the formal divorce process so you can get a list of documents you need. It is usually easier to obtain records from your spouse while you are still together. Also, it can be difficult to locate essential documents when parties move during separation.
You want to collect any document that has to do with money for both you and your spouse. This includes tax records, credit card statements, pension statements, insurance statements, bank statements, and mortgage statements.
If you are getting divorced in New York, you should expect to complete a “Statement of Net Worth” form. This 14-page document has several major headings including: Expenses, Income, Liabilities,
Assets Transferred. Reviewing this form is a good starting point for creating a list of detailed information you will need to prepare your winning divorce strategy. This document is available at: http://www.nycourts.gov/forms/matrimonial/networth.pdf.
Tax data from your spouse is very helpful to track your spouse’s income and assets. Part of your divorce strategy should be to ask your spouse for a current tax statement and request ongoing access to your spouse’s tax records.
When planning your wining divorce strategy, it is important to record your expenses, especially if you have kids. Do you kids take lessons? Require after-school tutoring? Have special needs? A good lawyer will ask you to keep a journal of expenses that can be used to negotiate suitable maintenance and child support payments on your behalf.
Keep Good Records
Keep good records of the information you have requested and received. If your spouse has requested information from you, keep a copy of the letter you send to your spouse or your spouse’s lawyer. If you provide information over the telephone or in person, make a note with the date. This can be very helpful in case your spouse later tries to argue you have been difficult in providing information. Similarly track all requests you make to show to the court in case your spouse doesn’t respond.
If you remember the process you used to obtain documents, it will be easier for you to get updated versions when you need them. For example, you will need similar information to request a change in maintenance as you need for your divorce. Also, information that you need during your divorce will be required for other purposes such as preparing your taxes so it a good idea to maintain a file of useful documents.
Consider Tax Implications
When you get divorced, you may end up paying higher taxes or be entitled to deductions that could lower your taxes. Good tax planning can help minimize your tax burden and save you money.
Calculations made while negotiating your divorce may vary based on the timing. For example, changes in the market could affect the assessment of your assets. The length of your marriage could affect the amount of maintenance or child support payable. Timing your divorce could even affect tax calculations. A lawyer who thinks strategically will consider all these factors when planning your divorce.
If you are filing for divorce, you have some flexibility in the timing of your divorce. However, even if you have been served with papers, you may still be able to speed up or slow down the proceedings by how quickly you precede, the order in which you negotiate issues, and whether you pursue mediation or other alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.