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Be prepared for divorce, even if you don't expect it

Divorce can catch any person off-guard. That is why it pays to be prepared. If you have a considerable amount of wealth as an individual or as a couple and a spouse surprises you with a divorce, your unpreparedness may result in a loss in individual value. While finances are not the only part of a divorce, they are a very important part, especially in high-asset divorces. This is due to the ability of finances to determine the level of stress you have that is related to money concerns.

In order to be prepared for a divorce, a spouse should have access to credit and funds. Be sure to avoid relying solely on your partner for all income-this could result in you not having enough money to hire a legal advisor for the split. Keeping a credit card or a bank account with some funds set aside in only your name is a way to avoid this situation.

Important documents such as legal and financial records should be copied and kept in a place where your spouse cannot access them. Financial records may include vehicle titles, property deeds, insurance policies, brokerage account statements, bank account statements and tax returns. By copying these and keeping the documents in a safe place, you will negate a large portion of your partner's ability to hide assets.

If divorce does split your marriage, be sure to know the property that belongs to the marriage. Marital property includes nearly everything that is acquired during the marriage. Things that are not considered marital assets include individual awards from lawsuits, inheritance and gifts from people outside the marriage. Otherwise, the bulk of what has been brought into the marriage-including inheritance money that has been deposited into joint bank accounts, in most cases-will be split between the spouses.

Source: Forbes, "Three Types of Financial Mistakes Divorcing Women Make (And How to Avoid Them)," Jeff Landers, Nov. 27, 2012

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Treneff Cozza Law, LLC
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