3 Ways To Protect Yourself During A DivorceDec 15 2017
If you’re going through a divorce, you may be concerned about losing some of your assets – even if you have a marriage agreement in place. But by taking some important steps, you will actually make it easier when it comes to protecting yourself.
One of the most important things you can do is to enlist the services of a family lawyer. You might think you can handle your own divorce; however, it can be extremely challenging to navigate complex laws regarding the division of assets – not to mention the laws concerning parenting arrangements, child support and spousal support.
Protect Yourself During Separation
Before you separate, begin by gathering information. This material may be used during your separation/divorce proceedings, so preparing it before you separate will not only protect you, it will also save you some time during the legal process.
The information that you’ll need to compile to prove ownership of assets includes:
- Bank statements for each account you have. It’s a good idea to have bank statements that date back several months prior to your separation so that the court can see the average balance in each account. You’ll also need to keep a copy of the bank statement for each account during your separation.
- Retirement savings accounts are also important: even if you believe your spouse will not be able to access the account, in some cases he or she may be granted access. Keep statements regarding all types of retirement savings accounts.
- Take pictures of all vehicles and the condition they are in – inside and out. If the vehicle is in your spouse’s name, you should still have photos as you’ll need to provide a snapshot of your complete financial worth.
- Take photos of any real estate you may own.
- Obtain copies of all deed(s) and mortgage(s) to any real property. If you paid off a mortgage, get a copy of the mortgage payoff documents.
- Collect statements for all debts including credit cards, loans and other liabilities. Do your best to refrain from incurring any additional joint debt. If you do acquire additional debt, be sure to document it.
- If you’re able, keep the originals of all documents but do make extra copies. If you cannot keep the originals plus an extra copy, make two copies of the document.
Know Your Separation Date
Write down and memorize your separation date. You will also likely want to confirm the separation date with your spouse in case there is any dispute in the future. This can be done by simply sending an email. The separation date is important because a) any property acquired after the date of separation is not family property and b) any debt accrued after the date of separation is not family debt. In addition, the most common ground for divorce is having lived separate and apart for one year, so you will need to know your date of separation in order to obtain a divorce order when the time comes.
Protect Real Property
To protect your real property from being borrowed against or sold, you have four legal options. You can:
- Apply for a restraining order respecting the property under the Family Law Act;
- File a Certificate of Pending Litigation under the Land Title Act;
- File a notice of property agreement under the Family Law Act; or
- File an entry under the Land (Spouse Protection) Act.
Make sure you also have copies of deeds and any current and prior mortgages, including secondary mortgages.
Going through a separation and a subsequent divorce is often a very stressful and emotional time. It also requires a lot of planning, communication and cooperation from both sides. It’s a good idea to have a lawyer who’s experienced in family law to help guide you through the process. To learn more or to set up a consultation, contact our office.