Perhaps one of the reasons you decided to end your marriage is that you and your spouse argue constantly. You wouldn’t be the first person in New York (nor, likely, the last) to determine that you’d rather go your separate ways than stay in an unhappy relationship. If you’ve been married to a hot-tempered person, he or she might not take the news lightly that you have filed for divorce.
In fact, if your soon-to-be ex has a history of creating drama or trying to “get back at you” for problems in your relationship, things might get worse before they get better as you navigate divorce proceedings, especially those concerning property division. There are several things you can do to protect yourself financially before heading to court.
Close all of your joint credit card and bank accounts
Each married couple is unique in the way they handle finances. Some households have spouses who split financial responsibilities 50/50. Others leave all-things financial to just one spouse. No matter which group you’re in, it’s never a good idea to keep jointly owned accounts open if there’s a likelihood that an ex might rack up debt on purpose as an act of revenge.
To prevent this, you can close all shared accounts. You might want to open your own credit card account, savings account, etc., so that none of your funds are comingled from this point on. If there’s debt on your credit card, it might be possible to divide it, then transfer each portion to individual accounts.
Make a list of all marital assets
Once you take an inventory of marital property, you can determine if you’re entitled to separate ownership for any of the assets. For instance, if a benefactor left you an inheritance as part of a last will and testament that was designated for you only, such assets may not be subject to property division in a divorce.
Compiling a list as soon as possible after you’ve filed for divorce may also deter your ex from attempting to hide assets. If you already suspect that your spouse has been stashing cash or selling things, you can ask someone to hold onto the money, and you can bring the matter to the court’s attention.
Be prepared to state your needs
There’s no one way to divide assets in a New York divorce. The court may use its discretion to determine a fair settlement plan. To protect your interests, always enter the courtroom knowing exactly what you need, particularly regarding assets that are most important to you. For instance, you might want to stay living in your house with your children.
Maybe you need to keep your vehicle to have a way to get to work and drive the kids to school. The point is to avoid walking into court without knowing exactly what you own and what you need to move on in life after divorce.