By: Sarah McCain
In December 2017, an article was posted on the firm blog reviewing some important tips to keep in mind prior to becoming involved in a custody matter. That posting reviewed only a few examples of what can take place in those types of domestic relations cases. Though that posting only related to child custody issues, it could be relevant as relates to a divorce with children. Of course, there are more preparatory issues to think about in a divorce. When you’re looking at a dissolution of your marriage, there are additional items to make sure you have in line before you file or when a divorce is initiated by the other party.
First, if you are thinking of filing for divorce, it is not the time to make extravagant purchases for yourself. It is also not the time to begin transferring funds from any type of financial account. This falls under a term called “dissipation of martial assets.” The court will look at these expenditures or transfers to determine whether that financial exchange was done in an effort to keep the funds from the other person or done in anticipation of filing for divorce. For example, if you transfer $50,000 from a savings account just prior to filing for divorce, with the intention of keeping that money from your spouse, it is likely that the court will order you to reimburse the other party their share of the funds. Depending on the circumstances, it is even possible that the court could order that more than 50% be reimbursed to the other party, thereby giving them a greater share. Essentially, the idea of trying to hide money from your spouse could completely backfire and result in your receiving less than an equal share of the marital estate. Additionally, once you have filed for divorce, or have been served, hiding assets would be a violation of the C.R.S. 14-10-107 (4)(b)(I) divorce injunction.
This does not mean that you should completely ignore the financial situation or cannot continue to live your normal day to day life. If you are not the spouse who is hands-on with all of the financial matters related to your marriage and a physical separation is imminent, it may be a good idea to review any financial documentation which you have access to while in the home. Be observant of the financial statements which are coming to the home via mail or which may in the home already. If you believe that the other party has a bank account, knowing the bank where the account is held is vital. A Denver divorce attorney can subpoena bank account information if there is a concern over the presence of a secret bank account, but knowing the location of the bank account is key. It is impossible to subpoena every bank in the area to determine if there is an account there.
If there was a pre-marital component to any of the accounts that are owned by you, it is also a good idea to get started on pulling pre-marital account statements. As financial accounts do sometimes change ownership, it can sometimes take some time to track down these account balances from just before you were married. If you do not have these statements in your possession, begin contacting the companies now, as it saves time and prevents arguments over pre-marital values down the road.
Finally, if you are going to be leaving the residence early on in the divorce process, it can be helpful to review the personal property which exists in the home. Once you are out of the home, it can be difficult to remember everything that was there to determine what you want when personal property is divided. Additionally, once you move out, regaining access may be difficult. Furthermore, your spouse may decide to wrongly hid or dispose of personal items. Though household items may very well be marital property, the court does not generally address the division of personal property as part of the permanent orders in a divorce case. As such, it will be up to you and your spouse to divide these items between the two of you. I recommend taking a walk through of the house and making a list of those items which you will want to go with you. Take photos of collections and document those items which you may be of value for a future division.
It is important to make sure that you are educated regarding your situation before the divorce is fully in swing and it may be more difficult, after the fact, to obtain the documentation you may need to make your case.