Facing divorce means dealing with uncertainty. Even if you are the one who initiated the breakup, you may be unsure of what your future holds, particularly where your finances are concerned. The longer your marriage, the more entangled your finances may be, and even couples who have substantial wealth may have to deal with the unexpected issues in dividing their assets and income.
While Texas law presumes an equal division of marital property between spouses upon divorce, the challenge may be in gaining a complete and thorough picture of which assets are joint and which are separate. In order to obtain your fair share of assets, it would be wise to take steps to prepare for your divorce before the process begins.
An “open and honest relationship” may still have its secrets. Therefore, if you and your spouse have had a tense or tumultuous past, or if you voluntarily surrendered control of the finances to your spouse, you may suspect you do not have all the information you need to pursue a fair property settlement. Protecting your right to a fair share of the marital estate is critical to a hopeful and positive future, so you may benefit from taking the following steps:
- Make a list of your joint assets, including bank accounts, real estate investments and insurance policies;
- Make a list of your joint liabilities, including your mortgage, credit cards and personal loans;
- Make a list of any property or assets you own separately from your spouse, for example, gifts or inheritances;
- Make sure you have an accurate idea of your spouse’s income;
- Obtain copies of your estate planning documents, including any funeral costs you and your spouse pre-paid and long-term care insurance policies;
- Organize your documents so you can quickly access any information your attorney or others request;
- Where necessary, obtain appraisals or gather evidence of the value of any assets that your spouse may dispute; and
- Gather copies of your prior joint tax returns.
The key to your preparation is demonstrating which assets are jointly owned and should be evenly divided, and which assets are off the table for property division. For example, if your spouse owns a business that he or she did not protect with a prenuptial agreement, you may have a challenge when it comes to obtaining your fair share of its value. The more information you have about your joint and individual worth, the better prepared you will be to fight for what is rightfully yours. You may find that an experienced Board-certified family law expert attorney in Collin County, Denton County or elsewhere throughout Texas would be a necessary advocate in this fight.