Should We Separate Assets Before Filing for Divorce?

The end of a relationship brings a great deal of change.  Whereas in the past, parties have been working together to shore up their assets, pay down their debts, and plan for the future, a divorce means that they will need to move forward into a “new normal” that will include working alone for the same goals.  During a divorce, the court will make an equitable distribution of the parties’ marital assets and marital debts.  In the vast majority of cases, parties will be able to come to an agreement on some or even all of the issues in their case before reaching a final hearing.  Many clients will accordingly wonder whether they should start separating their assets before filing for divorce.

One reason why starting to separate your assets may benefit you is that it could help cut down on the potential issues that you will have to discuss with the other spouse during the highly emotionally charged time that is divorce.  Dividing assets before divorce starts can allow you and your spouse the chance to approach the issue without the divorce looming over the parties’ heads.

Dividing some property before the divorce starts could also help you effectively separate and reduce the number of issues in your case.  For example, dividing personal property assets like towels, pots and pans, or even furniture, could allow you to move out to your own apartment while taking some of the necessary household items with you.  Moving can be expensive, especially when you are starting completely over.  Therefore, dividing some minor personal property items can help you and your spouse start to move forward.

Finally, dividing some property before divorce can also mean that you reduce the issues in your divorce.  By already making a decision about who gets which items, you could already have those parts of your divorce completed before it even begins.  This can be true not only with small personal items, but also with the contents of checking accounts, vehicles, or other major assets.

Be aware that there can be some potential drawbacks to separating your assets before the divorce begins.  This can be especially true where you have a poor or even no understanding of what is separate property and what is marital property.  You could inadvertently give away a share in something your spouse does not have a legal right to in the divorce.  Once you have given the other spouse a portion of an asset, it will be more difficult to have the asset returned than to have never given the other party a portion of it in the first place.  It is always advisable to talk to an attorney before separating assets, even if you have not yet filed for divorce.

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If you have questions about property division in divorce, let us answer them. We have experience helping many clients during all phases of divorce.

Are you interested in seeking an annulment? If so, contact Williams Law Group, LLC right away. Our family law attorneys will review your case to determine if an annulment is an option. If it is, we will guide you through the process and ensure you make the best decisions for your future. Call our office at (908) 738-8512, email us atinfo@awilliamslawgroup.com, or contact us through our confidential online form to schedule a consultation

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