While there are certainly many elements of a divorce that can create controversy, those related to a couple’s finances are often among the most challenging. This may be especially true when one or both spouses have a high net worth and have accumulated significant wealth. Proper planning, however, is crucial for divorcing couples in any tax bracket, and if your divorce is on the horizon, there are a few things you can do to help protect your assets and investments.
Gather Pertinent Information
Just as preparations for your marriage began long before you applied for a marriage license, you should not wait until you file for divorce to begin planning for the process. Even if divorce is merely a possibility, you can start preparing by getting all of your relevant financial information together. Go back about five years and gather account statements, transaction records, tax returns, credit card invoices, investment documents, and anything else you can think of that will provide a clear picture of your financial situation. If you are not sure if a particular item should be included, include it anyway. Be sure to keep a copy of everything and be ready to present these records to your attorney for disclosure to your spouse's counsel and perhaps even the court.
Become an Individual
Before the legal process of divorce begins, it is important to open your own personal accounts and lines of credit. Having your accounts prevents your spouse from using money to which you should both have access. Joint accounts are often a major point of contention during divorce proceedings, and, in some cases, the situation gets to a point where the court decides to freeze jointly-owned accounts. With proper legal advice, you may even decide to transfer a portion of the money in your joint accounts into one of your own. Keep careful records, however, and do not spend recklessly, as doing so could provide your spouse with grounds for a claim of dissipation.
Identify Marital and Personal Property
In Illinois, property acquired by either spouse during the marriage is considered marital property, with very few statutory exceptions. Marital property must be divided equitably—not necessarily equally—during divorce. Make a list of everything that you and your spouse own, paying particular attention to the assets which you believe are not marital property. If you owned the asset prior to your marriage or you received it during the marriage as a gift or inheritance, you may need to provide proof if you wish to establish that it is your non-marital property. You can also begin deciding which marital assets you would like to receive and which you may be willing to let your spouse keep.
Contact an Attorney
No matter how simple or complex your divorce may seem, comprehensive planning is crucial, and experienced St. Charles divorce attorney can provide the guidance you need along the way. Call 630-377-7770 to schedule a free consultation at Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C., today and get the process the started.