One of the main concerns of many people anticipating or beginning the divorce process is protecting assets and losing as little as possible as the case proceeds through the courts. There are three stages of divorce with different tips for asset preservation for each stage.
Stage 1 – The Beginning of the Divorce Process
There are several crucial financial actions people should take at the beginning of the divorce process.
- Make a scanned copy of all financial documents and back up your copies to a safe place. Be sure you have evidence of all bank, investment, retirement, credit card and loan accounts.
- Review your credit report. Cancel credit cards that you no longer use and consider opening your own credit card if you do not have any credit cards in your name. Once you have filed to begin the divorce write to any credit card company that you will no longer be using, to tell them that you will not be responsible for future charges .
- In Louisiana, it is common for courts to issue a restraining order. However, make sure that a copy is sent to the financial institution. Otherwise, the financial institution has no obligation to follow it.
- Consider opening a post office box so you can get mail without being concerned it will be opened by or even seen by your soon-to-be-ex-spouse.
- Get a new email address so that your communication is kept confidential from your soon-to-ex and your employer. Do not use a work-related email address for divorce communications.
- Change your passwords to all your online accounts, but do not lock out your spouse from any joint accounts or accounts titled in their name.
Stage 2 – During the Divorce Process
The main thing to check on at this stage of the divorce process is that all insurance premiums are paid, and your coverage stays current. This includes car, health, disability, and life insurance. If your spouse is supposed to be paying these premiums, check with the insurance company that premiums are being paid or/and ask for documentation to verify the payments have been made.
You will be requesting financial information from your spouse for accounts that you cannot access. Compare the information you receive to copies of the scanned documents you made earlier.
Stage 3 – At the End of the Divorce Process
Be sure that the final petition is filed with the court and that the following transfers have been made and documented according to legal requirements.
- Transfer of real estate. Notification must be made to each parish where property is owned.
- Transfer of bank accounts, investment accounts, IRAs, and retirement plans.
- Make certain Pension Division Orders have been prepared, filed with the court and the plan so that Retirement Accounts are transferred into your name. If not done properly and within a reasonable time, the transfer can become more complicated and costly, or worse still, your money could disappear.
- Review the beneficiaries on all insurance policies, IRAs and other financial accounts and make changes where warranted.
- Cancel any credit cards in your ex-spouse’s possession for accounts that you are responsible for paying.
Review all documents that will be part of the court’s final order. This is also a good time to review all your estate planning documents.
At Hoffman Divorce Strategies, we assist family law attorneys and their clients in making the financial decisions that are important for their future. We work as part of a team in litigation, collaboration, or as a private financial mediator. Contact us for more information.