You have worked for years to earn your estate; however, divorce can and will put a financial strain on your estate and retirement plans. Whether you are facing division of the equity in your home, investment properties, business assets, or retirement and investment accounts, you need the assistance of an experienced family law attorney to protect your interests.
The Fierce Advocates at Cannon & Associates have the experience and dedication that you need to protect your interests. We have been there with clients in the past and will be in the future to protect your assets and the complex process of division of a marital estate. We offer personalized service and will be with you every step of the way to address your concerns during this challenging time. Call our office to schedule a confidential case evaluation (405) 657-2323. We stand ready to fight for you and help you protect your property division interest and your future.
Splitting Taxable and Non-Taxable Assets
You must be cautious in dividing retirement savings, 401(k) accounts, IRAs, Roth IRAs, and other investments during a high asset divorce. Substantial tax penalties lurk behind division or liquidation of investment accounts before retirement or maturation. It is important to ensure assets are fairly divided, instead of liquidated as much as possible.
Additional considerations come from trading a liquid bank account versus an investment account with tax implications at the state and federal level. Capital gains can become very complicated when assets are divided or funds are withdrawn too soon.
Selling Property versus Investments
You or your spouse may be personally attached to your family home; however, it is a financial investment whether you choose to look at it that way or not. Many people, even in one family, see and value property differently. You or your spouse may not want to sell the family home; however, one of you will need to be compensated financially, if the other spouse keeps the marital home. The equity in the marital home compared to the balance owed on the mortgage is an important consideration in determining the amount and type of debt you want to carry.
Division and deciding to keep or sell marital assets is complicated, such as your home, vehicles,vacation homes, investment properties, and other assets. You need to know what matters the most to you emotionally and also determine fair market value and potential appreciation on marital assets. Although an asset may be of marginal value right now, it may have a much higher appreciation forecast than other marital assets. As an experienced family law litigator, S. Douglas Elliott heads Cannon & Associates family law practice and has the years of experience and dedication necessary to help you achieve the best possible outcome in your case.
Division of Assets in Oklahoma
Oklahoma is an Equitable Distribution state, meaning property defined as “martial property” will be distributed equally between the spouses upon divorce. This evaluation can be quite simply with only a marital home and two vehicles at stake; however, it becomes much more complicated with substantial assets on the line. In Oklahoma, the amount of money in the marital estate does not affect the applicability of marital property; however, it makes retaining an experienced high asset family law attorney very important to protect your interest. There are ways to protect your assets in the case of divorce and ways you can fail to protect your assets.
When you have substantial assets and wealth, it is always important to contact an Oklahoma high asset divorce attorney who can help protect your investments and finances. The better you can plan in advance, the more protected your assets will be in the event of a high asset divorce. These general tips may help you plan for the unexpected, but an experienced attorney will be able to look at your assets individually to assess and provide the best protection.
Protecting your Finances Before you get Married
While it may be an uncomfortable conversation with your future spouse, it may not be a bad idea to set boundaries with your fiancé before tying the knot, especially if you have substantial assets that you would want to protect in the event of a divorce. These protections start before the marriage begins.
One way to do this is to keep property that you want to keep as separate property. In Oklahoma, separate property is not divided. Separate property is property owned by either spouse before or after the marriage that is not co-mingled. For example, if a wife bought stocks in a company before the marriage and never commingled her funds with her husband’s funds once they got married, those stocks would remain hers upon divorce, at least her divorce attorney would have a good argument that they remain separate property.
Another way to protect your assets before a marriage is to enter into a prenuptial agreement with your fiancé. This is a written agreement between you and your fiancé in which you both agree to certain conditions in the event of a divorce. Agreements can also keep finances separate, limit alimony payments, protect businesses and income, and limit debt liability.
This agreement is powerful because it allows the parties to pick what they get in advance, and a court will uphold it so long as it is fair, reasonable, and the parties were frank in their disclosure of what they owned at the time the make the agreement. In other words, a spouse cannot trick the other into an agreement where the other spouse does not have knowledge of the extent of the other’s assets.
Protecting Your finances during Married
Marital Property is acquired during the course of the marriage from marital funds. Marital property can also begin as separate property, but the funds contributing to it were commingled. The softest way to keep marital property separate, is to only have party contribute to the cost and maintenance of the property.
Keeping records is also vital to protecting your assets during a marriage. Make copies of marriage certificates, wills, deeds, account numbers, tax returns, account statements for deposits, mortgages, credit cards, and marital loans. Most of this will be needed during a divorce anyway, but it can also be offered as proof that certain property has always been separate. Keeping clearly separate funds/accounts and not co-mingling assets that you bring into the marriage will assist you in defending your property interests in a high asset divorce.
Protecting your Assets When Preparing for Divorce
Once the topic of divorce is brought to the table or the spouses separate, parties with substantial assets will want to start preparing more aggressively for how to protect their property interests. If you and your spouse are breaking up amicably, it will be a good idea to try and come to an agreement on things that you want to divide among yourselves before a divorce is sought. Sometimes when both spouses are high-earning and have a lot of their own assets, they will want to resolve these issues without court involvement. However, a word of caution, without the assistance of an experienced high asset divorce attorney, you may miss out of identifying and collecting your interests in marital property that your spouse attempts to hide or define as separate property.
One thing you should do is identify all your cash resources. Divorces, especially ones with substantial assets can get expensive. Cash resources will give you an idea for how much money you are willing to spend if the divorce becomes highly contested. Identify assets that you are not willing to give up or lose and collect all documents on all the finances and property in the martial estate is vital to success in a high asset divorce in Oklahoma, or anywhere.
Another thing you will want to do is identify and index any joint accounts and separate accounts for both parties. Ensure that all records are up to date and review new account statements as they arrive. If a spouse withdraws money during divorce proceedings for something other than legitimate marital bills, the court can order that spouse to reimburse the joint account. Additionally, open a bank account in your own name and start using that personal account opposed to the joint account. Ask you attorney what a reasonable amount of money would be to deposit from the joint account into your new personal account.
Protecting your Assets During Divorce
Once a divorce petition is filed, the parties are expected to “maintain the status quo,” which means they cannot participate in any extreme activity that they would not have engaged in if they were not getting divorced. Typically, this is reinforced by a temporary injunction or temporary order which manages what the parties are allowed to do during a divorce.
First, if you have not consulted with a lawyer, do so. An experienced Oklahoma divorce attorney will be able to help you protect your assets at all stages. They can advise you on the best way to manage each of your assets and how to protect your investments and financial interests.
If there is not a prenuptial agreement to divide property, you will need to address how you and your partner want to divide the assets, or otherwise your divorce attorney will need to be prepared to fight for your interests in court. You and your divorce attorney need to identify and value all your assets and liabilities. This may include:
- All real property, including houses and vacation homes
- Bank accounts, joint and separate
- Stocks and bonds
- College funds and debts
- Income tax refunds
- Cash value of life insurance policy
- Retirement savings
- Loans that you have made to others
- Jewelry, artwork, and collectibles
Alimony can be awarded to a spouse will lower earnings to maintain their quality and status of life as they become accustom to their new lifestyle. If there are children in the marriage, the court will determine custody and who child support. Child support is ordered for the benefit of the parties’ minor children; however, it may be waived if the parties reach an alternative agreement and the court will agree to enforce.
Oklahoma has a cap on the income calculation for child support, which means, if you or your spouse are above that threshold the court has discretion to determine the amount of child support it sees fit. This is only one reason why it is so important to hire an Oklahoma divorce attorney with experience in high asset divorce to assist you preparing your defense and arguments for each stage of your divorce case. What is important to note is that while the court will always make the best decision for the child, they will not necessarily give custody to the wealthier parent.
What to do After Your Divorce
After you obtain your divorce, you will need to change your will or living trust. If you include your ex-spouse in these documents and do not change them, they will still be awarded property in accordance with your will. An Oklahoma high asset divorce attorney can make sure your wills and trusts are rewritten to reflect your wishes for after your divorce.
Contact – Cannon & Associates: Oklahoma Family Law Advocates
Experience matters when you are seeking a divorce in Oklahoma—especially when you have substantial assets that may or may not be divided during the course of your divorce. It is important to know the Oklahoma divorce lawyer you hire is dedicated to your cause and versed in all aspects of divorce and separation in Oklahoma.
Cannon & Associates is dedicated to Fierce Advocacy and will fight for your rights. Divorce is tough, especially when forensic accounting and division of substantial assets is involved. However, Cannon & Associates is here to support and guide you through all of your options. We are dedicated to helping you resolve your dispute in the most advantageous setting and are ready to help you get the relief you need.