High-wealth couples will learn quickly that division of assets is one of the most stressful and complex situations during the divorce process. Even with prenuptial agreements in place, these orders can be -- and usually are -- contested by the lower-wealth spouse.
When you get married, you're focused on merging your households, not keeping them separate, which is why asset division can be so complicated, especially in long-term marriages. Before you start divorce negotiations, there are several steps you can take to help protect your assets during the divorce.
Washington state property laws do allow for both community and separate property, but you must provide proof that an asset was obtained prior to your marriage. Therefore, when purchasing large assets such as stocks, real estate and vehicles, it's best to keep the transactions in your own portfolio and your name only on the titles and deeds.
If you have a high-value collection such as fine artwork or jewelry, it is a good idea to have an appraiser catalog and document each item and verify each purchase. Once documented, these smaller items should be secured in a neutral place that only you can access, like a safe deposit box. This helps minimize the risk that your spouse will walk off with expensive items that you owned prior to your marriage.
Start Separating Finances Early
The divorce process takes a long time, and during this period, you and your spouse still will be responsible for joint bills such as household expenses and child-related expenses. When the topic of divorce is first discussed, you may want to set up a private bank account so you can start transferring money to your own personal account. It's a good idea to discuss this move with your spouse first to work on an agreeable amount you will take from the joint account or an amount you will deposit on a monthly basis to take care of household expenses while the divorce process is underway.
Talk to a Divorce Attorney as Soon as Possible
A common problem many divorcing couples run into is when one spouse decides to use up or horde all the joint assets. To help prevent this from happening, you should initiate the divorce process and start working with a divorce attorney as soon as possible.
Divorce attorneys can guide you through different asset protection strategies to help safeguard investments, property and finances that should be rightfully yours. They can also help you with difficult decisions that need to be made when it is time to divide joint marital property, such as the family home.
The Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny provide support from pre-divorce strategy to post-divorce recovery. Contact us online or call us at 425-460-0550 for help with your divorce case.