Divorce is a challenging, and often harrowing, experience. It is especially difficult when either one or both spouses attempt to manipulate the division of assets, both financial and otherwise. This complicates matters and extends the divorce timeline. You must be proactive in protecting yourself once you find yourself in this position.
At Sutherland Law Firm, we have seen it all. People are quite strategic when attempting to cheat the other out of their rightful share of assets. For this reason, it is necessary to acquire a qualified attorney once it is clear your marriage is over. Your lawyer works to account for all divided assets and protect your rightful share.
Below are three divorce scenarios that require the knowledge and legal expertise of an experienced attorney.
Scenario No. 1: Spouse Cashes Out Their Retirement and Files for Divorce
New Mexico is a community property state. Any assets that belong to the marriage must be split equally between the spouses upon dissolution of the marriage. This includes retirement funds accumulated during the marriage.
For example, suppose John Doe is having an affair and wants to keep his retirement accumulated either through a 401(k) or a traditional IRA. Additionally, let us imagine the issue is compounded by the following:
- Mr. Doe allegedly spent his retirement.
- He has around $20,000 in credit card debt in both spouses’ names.
- He has taken a second mortgage out on the house—adding $10,000 to the debt total.
It’s a bad situation to be in, but there are remedies for fair and equitable resolution. If a lot of equity has been put into the house and Jane Doe can prove the above, a court can likely rule in her favor. She could be compensated.
Scenario No. 2: Uncovering Hidden Assets in Your Marriage
Specific steps must be taken to ensure your spouse does not keep assets hidden during your divorce. Because all assets acquired during a marriage are the property of both spouses, you are entitled to these assets, whether you have prior knowledge of them or not. You can begin to determine whether there are hidden assets in your marriage by studying bank statements, taking a look at past tax returns, and by legally requesting a statement of net worth.
The request for a statement of net worth is standard procedure in divorce cases and is typically filed at the start of proceedings. Your divorce lawyer can help you make the request and/or provide your own statement. This is a legal document in which each spouse is required to be honest about all assets. The statement contains all details of net worth including specific lists of assets, income, and liabilities. This statement is used to determine appropriate child support, alimony, and more. In some contested divorces it is used during litigation.
Scenario No 3: A Spouse Demands You Sign Legal Documents During a Separation or Divorce
Once a divorce—or even a separation—is in process, it is important to have an experienced lawyer review any and all documents pertaining to separation and/or divorce. Many of these documents are lengthy, complex, and full of legal jargon. Your divorce lawyer has the expertise and experience to properly read through these documents and uncover any issues that may be buried within the documents, potentially saving you thousands of dollars.
Do not sign any legal documents before your lawyer looks at them. Do not attempt to discuss, agree to, or finalize any resolutions without your divorce lawyer. You may accidentally waive your rights to assets. Even worse, you may accidentally waive your parental rights.
Remember, one attorney cannot represent both parties during a divorce case. If any documents are signed without a lawyer’s input they will most likely be binding and nearly impossible to rescind. Be proactive in protecting yourself. Do not sign any documents until you hire an attorney.
Follow the advice of your divorce lawyer. While family and friends will want to be there for you and mean well, they are not lawyers. Seek comfort from family and friends but not advice. The only person who can properly advise you on your divorce proceedings is your divorce lawyer.
Contact an Albuquerque Divorce Lawyer
Going through a divorce can be a very painful and emotionally draining time in one’s life. So, even though you have the loving support of family and friends, they cannot fully represent your best interests if they don’t know the divorce laws for your state. If you have been served with divorce papers or find it necessary to end your marriage, contact our Albuquerque Divorce Lawyer at Sutherland Law Firm, LLC. Call (575) 205-1328, or email us.