Oklahoma City Divorce Lawyer, Cordell & Cordell
If you are heading toward what feels like an inevitable divorce, it is important to protect your assets.
Unfortunately, the majority of people begin to consider asset protection planning only after being served with a lawsuit, but by then, it is already too late to shield your assets.
Generally, unless you have an Antenuptial Agreement (or "prenup") property, debts, and financial assets acquired during the marriage are considered marital property and will be equitably divided during the divorce.
That means that if you bought it, borrowed it, or banked it during the marriage it belongs to the both of you equally, regardless of whose name is on it, and it will be more or less split between the two of you during the divorce.
Property, debts, and financial assets acquired before the marriage, or by inheritance or gift during the marriage, are usually considered separate property and are not considered part of the marital estate. These go to whoever owns them free and clear of any claim by the owner.
So, to protect your separate property, you should begin gathering information that shows that your separate property is indeed your own. If you still have a house or car from before the marriage, deeds, titles, etc., will do. If you inherited a small fortune from a long lost uncle, contact his estate and get a copy of the will or trust showing the gift.
Think about what you would need to show the judge in order to prove that that particular asset or account is yours alone.
As for your marital property, if there are certain items, debts, or accounts you’d like to keep, you can discuss the division of these items with your wife before you move forward with the divorce. If you two reach any agreements on property and debt division, get it down on paper and sign it.
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A properly drafted and executed quit claim deed will satisfactorily transfer a parties’ right and claim to piece of real property.
With that said, transferring ownership does not usually effect any debt associated with property. This means, for example, your wife can give up her ownership of the marital home, but if she’s still on the mortgage with the bank, she’s still on the hook for the debt as far as the bank is concerned.
In general, the court cannot alter the terms of you and your wife's contract with the bank for the mortgage, but it can order you to find individual financing or to refinance the house in your own name within a certain timeframe in order to get her off the note.
As you move forward, it’s a good idea to seek the advice of a skilled asset protection attorney. Cordell & Cordell currently does offer asset protection services to men located in the St. Louis, Mo., market.