How Do I Protect My Assets in a Long Island Divorce?
If you’re preparing for a divorce, it’s important to take steps to protect your assets. Here’s what you can do to protect what belongs to you and is rightfully yours in a Long Island divorce.
Open a Personal Checking Account in Your Name
If you don’t already have a personal checking and savings account in your own name, the first thing you should do is open one. It’s important to have a place to put your own money that cannot be accessed by your ex-spouse. Ideally, you’re taking this step before filing for divorce or even informing your spouse that you are considering a divorce. Keep your banking papers in a place that only you know about and can access.
Close Your Joint Bank and Credit Accounts
It’s likely that you have at least one shared bank or credit account with your spouse, if not more. After you open your own account, you should either close out joint accounts or ask to be removed from them. Typically, you need to have both account owners sign to close an account, but you may be able to be removed from the account without notifying the other account owner. If you and your spouse are amicable about the split, subtlety may not be necessary. However, in contested divorce cases, it may be a better option to be more discreet initially.
Set Up a Post Office Box in Your Name
You should also have a separate place to receive your mail other than the home address that you share with your spouse. Open a post office box and let certain entities — like your divorce lawyer — know that you’ll need correspondence sent there. You may wish to formally forward your mailing address for simplicity, or you may prefer to be discreet and only provide your new mailing address to specific people or companies.
Avoid Taking on New Debt Obligations
New York equitable distribution laws don’t just apply to property, they apply to debt. Your debt will be distributed fairly between you and your ex, and most of the time this ends up being equal. However, if you take on new debt shortly before your divorce in an attempt to also have that equally distributed to your spouse, this may not be what happens. The age of the debt will be evaluated, and you will likely be fully responsible for debt that you took on for a short period of time prior to filing for divorce.
Document Your Assets Before You File for Divorce
Take an inventory of your assets as soon as you can, ideally before you formally file for divorce. Include gifts and heirlooms like jewelry, property that you own, and any assets that you brought into the marriage if you don’t already have a prenuptial agreement that outlines separate property that you owned prior to the marriage. Consider opening a safe deposit box and keeping smaller assets and records of assets there instead of at your shared home.
Pursue Additional Job Training If Needed Before You File
If you require additional education or training to be able to live independently from your spouse, consider pursuing it prior to filing for divorce. This is often most necessary for the lesser earning spouse in the marriage. If you make significantly less than your spouse or nothing at all, give yourself as much time as you can to get some additional training under your belt before you step out into the world independently. Alimony — also called spousal support — may be available for you, however, you may not be awarded what you expect. It’s a good idea to plan ahead and be as financially stable on your own as possible before you formally file for the dissolution of your marriage.
Contact an Experienced Long Island Divorce Lawyer to Protect Your Assets
Don’t wait to get legal help when considering getting a divorce. It’s in your best interests to start working with your lawyer before you file, so you can take the necessary steps to protect your assets. At Hornberger Verbitsky P.C., we can help. Call now at 631-923-1910 for your free consultation.
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