Divorce is an emotionally draining process that can lead to many disputes, including over property division. One of the tactics that some spouses use is removing marital property before the divorce proceedings begin. This can create a complex legal situation that requires the intervention of a divorce lawyer. In this article, we will explore the legal implications of removing marital property before divorce.
What is Marital Property?
Marital property refers to any asset that a couple acquires during their marriage. This includes the home, cars, investments, bank accounts, and other possessions. In some cases, a spouse may also be entitled to a share of the other spouse’s retirement benefits. Any property that was acquired before the marriage or through inheritance is not considered marital property.
Why Do Spouses Remove Marital Property?
There are several reasons why a spouse may remove marital property before a divorce. One of the most common reasons is to prevent the other spouse from getting their fair share of the assets. This can be done by hiding the property or transferring it to another person or account. Another reason is to punish the other spouse for their behavior during the marriage.
Legal Implications of Removing Marital Property
Removing marital property before a divorce can have serious legal implications. In some cases, it can be considered fraud or theft. If the property was sold or transferred to another person, the court can order that person to return the property or pay its value to the other spouse. This can also affect the division of assets and alimony payments.
What to Do If Your Spouse Removes Marital Property
If you suspect that your spouse has removed marital property before your divorce, you should consult with a divorce lawyer immediately. They can help you gather evidence and file a motion with the court to prevent the dissipation of assets. If the property has already been removed, your lawyer can help you recover it or seek compensation for its value.
Protecting Marital Property During Divorce
To protect your marital property during divorce, you should take several steps. First, make an inventory of all your assets and liabilities, including any joint accounts. Keep copies of all financial documents, such as bank statements, tax returns, and investment statements. If you suspect that your spouse may remove property, consider freezing joint accounts or transferring funds to a separate account.
Getting a Fair Division of Assets
The division of assets in a divorce can be a complicated process. In most cases, the court will divide the assets fairly and equitably between the spouses. This means that each spouse will receive a share of the assets based on their contributions during the marriage. This can include financial contributions, such as income and investments, as well as non-financial contributions, such as childcare and household duties.
Removing marital property before divorce is a serious issue that can have legal and financial consequences. If you suspect that your spouse has removed property, you should consult with a divorce lawyer immediately. By taking steps to protect your assets and seeking legal advice, you can ensure that you receive a fair division of assets and protect your financial future.