When a marriage is heading downhill, there may be a change in the financial status within the household. Joint checking and credit card accounts may begin to show unusual activity, that of unexplained charges or cash withdrawals. A spouse, even though their marriage is deteriorating, may decline to discuss a divorce until they have secured the family cash and assets in a different account. In the divorce proceedings, a judge will require all of the assets returned to their prospective accounts eventually, but this takes time and there is no guarantee that all assets will be returned.
It is, therefore, beneficial for those contemplating divorce to be proactive in protecting their marital assets, and securing copies of accounts. Make sure you have copies of all bank and credit card statements, recent 1040 tax returns, and W-2s and 1099’s, or any other financial accounts you may have. You will also need copies of insurance policies, retirement plan statements, pension plans, wills, codicils and trusts. A copy of every vehicle and real property owned will be needed, as well.
If you or your spouse own a business or are self-employed, make copies of business ledgers, financial journals, payroll, sales tax returns and expense account records. A video or Excel/photo inventory of each room and its contents will be helpful in determining the value of your assets and also show items that may be missing, too. If you have any fine art, antiques, jewelry or collectibles, a copy of the appraisal for all items will be needed. Finally, make copies of your spouse’s pay stub for the past couple of months and also for the recent end of year.
By planning ahead, you will protect your assets before your spouse has the chance to conceal, transfer or sell marital items, and you will have the ease of mind knowing that you will receive your fair share when your divorce is finalized.