How to protect your assets before divorce
Written by Kristine Reich

How to protect your assets before divorce

Arizona is a community property state. This generally means that anything you or your spouse obtain during the marriage belongs to both of you, regardless of whose name is on the asset. In the event of a divorce, community property is to be “equitably” divided, which often means you will split the value down the middle. On the other hand, any property you brought into the marriage is likely your “sole and separate” property, which means it is not divided in a divorce. If you’re wondering how you can protect your assets before divorce, you aren’t alone.

How to Characterize Your Assets

The first step to protecting your assets is to make a list of what they include. After that, separate the items by what was yours prior to the marriage and what was acquired during the marriage. This will help ensure an equitable split of marital property during a divorce while acknowledging and protecting assets owned before the marriage. This process isn’t easy, but with open communication between you, your partner and your collaborative divorce professionals, it is possible.

After you’ve made your list of assets and when they were acquired, it’s time to focus on the future. The divorce process includes division of community assets, and unless you have a prenuptial agreement, it doesn’t matter which of you earned the income, incurred the debt or made the purchases.

On the other hand, what you had before you got married usually remains yours. If you own property prior to marriage or receive a gift during the marriage, that is usually not community property as long as it remains separate. Likewise, an inheritance received by one of you during the marriage is typically treated as separate property, but even an inheritance or gift can become community property if you deposit it into a joint account or invest it in a joint asset.

To protect your assets before divorce, honesty and open communication are vital. One of the legal professionals who can help with your collaborative divorce is a communication coach. They will work with you to set expectations about the divorce while coaching you on how to communicate effectively. This is a real help when dealing with assets during a divorce. Further, a neutral financial professional can work together with both spouses to encourage full transparency and ensure that all questions are answered.  It is not unusual for divorcing couples to question whether hiring these additional neutral professionals is worth it.  Inevitably their value becomes apparent as they are key to maintaining a respectful process and breaking impasse, which can create expediency that becomes worth its weight in gold.

Disclose and Divide

Protecting your assets before divorce does not mean hiding assets. A collaborative divorce encourages you and your spouse to work together to identify assets. You should combine efforts to identify everything you have: assets and debts, large and small. Go through everything and determine what is yours, your spouse’s or community property. From here, you can work together to sort it out in a mutually agreeable manner.

Collaborate Throughout the Process

You may have items with a sentimental or practical value higher than what the accounting shows. Collaborative divorce can help protect your assets before divorce by encouraging you to cooperate. Divorce does not have to be a fight.

Instead of arguing for everything you can get, a collaborative divorce works toward an outcome that is acceptable to both of you. This gives you more opportunity to protect your assets before divorce because it makes you evaluate your priorities to reach an acceptable result. The collaborative team will work with both spouses with a focus on effective communication and creative problem-solving to avoid a high conflict situation.

Hire Experienced Legal Help

The longer you are married, the more you may have to divide in a divorce. This can be difficult, and sometimes even painful. The collaborative process gives you the opportunity to figure out the details together. If you’re ready to learn more about how you can protect your assets before divorce, contact the professionals at Best Legal Choices today.