How Can I Protect My Finances During My Divorce?
Considering the option of getting a divorce on Long Island is a significant life event, even if your only just mulling it over or slowly getting things in order in preparation. One critical thing to prepare for well in advance if you can is protecting your finances. Here’s how and who can help you navigate finances in the New York family law system during this difficult time.
Open Up Your Own Bank Account
Ideally, the first step you will take before even letting your spouse know that you’re considering getting a divorce is to open up a bank account in your name only. Make sure paychecks from your job are put into this account, as well as any gifts or money that solely belongs to you.
While earned income is subject to equitable distribution under New York law, keeping your money in a separate account is a good way to protect it from being accessed at will by your spouse. Generally, what will occur is you will submit a statement of your earned income and at least a portion of that will be considered shared assets.
Begin Keeping Detailed Records of All Financial Assets & Earnings
You should also start keeping explicitly detailed records of all financial transactions, gained or sold assets, earnings, and tax documents. Gathering these records can take time, particularly if you have been married for many years.
Starting this process early means that you’ll be well prepared and won’t be scrambling for paperwork at the last minute. Keep these records — as well as any other pertinent documents, valuables, and other assets — stored safely away from your home in a location that only you know about and to which only you have access.
Make a List of Your Spouse’s Contributions to the Home
If your spouse earns less than you, or is a homemaker, make a detailed list of their contributions to the home. The court considers things like taking care of children, maintaining a home, cooking and cleaning, and similar commitments as legitimate contributions to the family that can be monetarily compensated.
It’s a good idea if you go into your Long Island divorce case already having an idea of what your spouse contributes to the family home on a regular basis and what that may be worth. You may be liable for some or all of this compensation if your spouse stayed home so you could pursue your career, or care for your children.
Make a List of Your Personal Assets
Property acquired during your marriage is considered joint property and either must be negotiated to be given to one spouse in exchange for something of equal value or liquidated to split the proceeds.
Start creating a list of property that you have that specifically belongs to you, particularly if they were gifts given to you by other family members. For example, your spouse is unlikely to have any claim to heirloom furniture or jewelry, etc. that were passed down to you from your family’s previous generations.
Even if these items are worth a significant amount of money, if you can show that they were gifted specifically to you, potentially before your marriage, you should not have a problem maintaining control over these assets.
Additionally, if you have an inheritance of any kind or you won money in a personal injury settlement or civil claim specifically for damages you suffered, these are also assets that are unlikely to be considered shareable under equitable distribution.
Contact an Experienced Long Island Divorce Attorney for Assistance
Protecting the financial assets that rightfully belong to you in a divorce can be challenging, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the New York legal system. If you don’t have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement in place, this can make determining what is and isn’t marital property even more challenging.
It’s in your best interests to work with a seasoned Long Island family law firm that can help you gather important documentation, keep records straight, and zealously advocate for the rights and best interests of your family.
Contact Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. today to learn more about options that may be available to you to protect your finances before and during the divorce process. Call 631-923-1910 or fill out the short form below to schedule your free initial consultation.
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