If you are getting ready to follow the path of divorce or have already started the process, it’s essential to take steps to safeguard what rightfully belongs to you.
Ending a marriage can be a traumatic experience, not just for the couple involved, but also for everyone close to them. Still, keeping a clear head is vital to receiving the best financial outcome possible.
How can you protect what’s yours?
Washington law stipulates that the division of property is “just and equitable,” but that doesn’t mean it will be a 50/50 split. So, it’s important to consider these issues to get your fair share:
- Experienced legal advice: It’s never a good idea to work on an agreement with your spouse before consulting with a knowledgeable family law attorney. Your lawyer can help identify assets that you may not have thought about or those you never knew existed.
- Hidden assets: Some spouses try to take unfair advantage by attempting to transfer property to third parties, denying they exist or moving them offshore. It’s not a smart thing to do, especially if your lawyer or a forensic accountant finds irregularities in financial documents.
- Family home: Keeping or selling a family home can be one of the most emotional and valuable decisions during divorce. It’s crucial to understand the type of ownership agreement you have with your spouse, and what rights you have to share in that investment.
- Family business: If you own a business that your spouse was never involved in, there’s a good chance they will still have a right to at least a portion of the business’s assessed value. However, that amount may be defined in a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. If not, it’s vital to have well-documented evidence outlining each party’s contributions.
- Pensions: Company and personal pensions are taken into consideration during a divorce. If your pension started accruing 20 years ago, but you’ve only been married 10 years, both parties may split the pension amount earned during the marriage. However, you can negotiate to trade other assets, such as giving an ex-spouse a more significant share of a house or business.
Consider alternative dispute resolution
When both parties want to settle the division of assets without litigation, alternative dispute resolution (ADR) may be the best option. Mediation or collaborative divorce are forward-thinking processes that can lower costs and tensions as both parties work toward a mutually beneficial agreement.