The most complex aspect of most divorces is sorting out what happens to a couple’s property. In fact, the majority of your divorce lawyer’s time will be spent dealing with the separation of your marital property.
To enable us to advise you about a potential property settlement for your divorce, we will need a full picture of your finances. If you provide us with this at our first meeting with you, or at an early stage in your divorce, we can give you a more realistic idea of how we can help protect your assets during your divorce.
What we like to achieve for our divorce clients is a good settlement out of court. The best way to do this is through negotiating on your behalf and by helping you obtain a fair settlement.
Another approach is mediation, which is where you and your spouse meet face to face and negotiate a settlement with the help of a mediator. During this process, we will be there with you to walk you through the mediation and advise you on any legal issues.
Yet another approach is collaborative law, which is a relatively new idea, but one that will allow you and your spouse to come to an agreement on financial matters quickly and on your own terms, without having to get the courts involved. Likewise, we will be there working with you to achieve your goals.
The Allocation Property in an Arkansas Divorce
During a divorce in Arkansas, the courts determine who is going to get what based on a concept known as equitable distribution. This means that all assets and liabilities owned by you and your spouse will be divided equitably, though not necessarily equally.
The first thing the court will do is to examine all of your assets to determine which property is marital property and which is non-marital or separate property. If a prenuptial agreement, premarital agreement, or prenup, was contracted and entered into prior to a marriage then it will state how you and your spouse previously agreed upon dividing things now that your marriage is being dissolved and will be taken into consideration. The distinction between marital and non-marital property is important because a non-marital property is not usually subject to equitable distribution during a divorce. Non-marital or separate property can include gifts and inheritances, as well as any assets and liabilities you owned before getting married, such as savings accounts, 401k accounts, real estate, and personal property.
Most divorce cases involve a combination of both marital and non-marital property. Some assets may even have a component of both. What’s more, when you are married, your assets and liabilities are typically commingled, so sorting out what is marital property and what is non-marital property can be extremely challenging during a divorce.
What You Can Do To Protect Your Assets During a Divorce
One of the biggest issues you should be concerned about during a divorce is protecting your assets. It’s normal to mistrust your spouse when you are going through a divorce. However, this can lead to reckless behavior caused by paranoia if not dealt with properly.
Here are some tips that we provide for our clients that can help you avoid stressful conflicts during your divorce:
Start a New Bank Account
If you have been using a joint checking account, you may want to open a separate bank account for each spouse. Then, if you and your spouse agree should move funds out of your joint accounts into these separate accounts for preservation. You and your spouse can come to a mutual agreement on how your joint accounts should be divided, but it would be advisable to notify your lawyers before doing so.
Document Your Transactions
If you and your spouse continue to use joint accounts to pay for bills or other expenses, keep your statements and receipts to document these transactions. Also, if you have already physically separated, be sure to consult with your divorce lawyer regarding spousal support during your divorce. Generally, the party who is paying the bills will be liable to pay cash support to the other party when you are no longer living together.
Deposit your Cash
Deposit any money that you have been keeping in your home into a bank account so that it can be properly documented. Lawyers and judges are often suspicious of cash transactions. Therefore, paying by check and bank transfer is advised.
Divide Personal Property
Personal property, including household goods, furniture, gifts, inheritances, and things you owned prior to being married may be divided if you and your spouse physically separate. However, it is a good idea to make a list of these items before they are moved from your marital residence to narrow down any disputes to as few items as possible. Judges do not like dealing with these issues, so it’s important to do your best to work them out between the two of you. You should also place your family heirlooms somewhere for safekeeping so that they can’t be held hostage by your spouse during your divorce negotiations.
Consult With an Experienced Family Law Attorney From Mann & Kemp
Every divorce is unique, so the advice you receive from your divorce lawyer must be tailored to your specific circumstances in order to effectively address any issues regarding your assets and liabilities before they become disputes in court.
If you are going through a divorce in central Arkansas, we can help. Our law firm is made up of a powerful team of lawyers who are dedicated to family law. Call Mann & Kemp at (501) 859-6183 to schedule your appointment with one of our professionals.