Divorce can be messy. In most cases, each of the parties involved wants to leave with as much as they can. This mindset can cause a lot of back and forth which ultimately slows down the progress of the case. One of the major areas of contention in divorce cases is assets and debt distribution. Each party wants to retain as much as they can while leaving little of what they have worked for to the other party. The race to get as much out of the divorce can lead parties into making some mistakes like concealing assets and others.
Protecting Assets in Oklahoma Divorce Cases
As soon as the divorce papers have been filed in Oklahoma, a temporary stay is placed on all assets and accounts. This temporary injunction will prevent both parties from transferring assets or effecting changes to their retirement accounts, insurance information, and documents. In addition to this, each party is expected to be forthright and honest with the financial information that is presented to the court. With such information, the court is armed with the information that is needed to make the right decision.
It is wise to be careful when going into the divorce process, perhaps the wisest decision to make is hiring an experienced and reputable divorce lawyer. Having a reputable divorce lawyer in your corner offers you an advantage, especially as you can rely on the attorney for legal advice on the dos and don’ts of divorce cases.
As part of the process, your divorce attorney will advise you to document your assets. You can make copies of all bank transactions and statements, including retirement statements. If you have investments, you can also make copies of your investment statement and keep it with your attorney. If you suspect that your spouse may be trying to hide some of their assets, it is best to inform your attorney who will also take proactive steps to ensure that those hidden assets and finances are uncovered.
The Discovery Process May Help Uncover Hidden Assets
Although, both parties involved in the divorce are expected to be honest, however, this isn’t always the case. The discovery process allows each of the parties to work on uncovering hidden assets. Attorneys employ a wide range of tools during this process and may even hire financial experts to get the job done.
In some cases, the attorneys may interrogate their client’s partners in a bid to uncover information that can lead to hidden assets that are stashed away for later use. Attorneys also submit document production requests which can be used to demand certain financial information and documents that will prove valuable to the discovery process. Oftentimes, the interrogatory request is paired with the document production request to arrive at a conclusive decision.
If you find that your spouse has hidden a significant amount of your marital asset and have only been able to uncover some of those assets during the discovery process, you may want to go the extra mile by hiring a forensic expert to carefully follow the paper trail and uncover the remaining assets.
Tips to Protect your Assets in an Oklahoma Divorce
- Get Copies of your Financial Statements
Get it in writing, period. Oklahoma is a no-fault state and will not care about your spouse’s extramarital affair; however, the family law judge in your case will care about the records of the parties’ finances. It is important to begin compiling records as soon as possible. You should not rely on access to a website or a digital copy. It is very possible and we have seen clients lose access to all accounts, after a spouse changed the passwords and denied access to information. Print a copy of all your financial statements and/or download a PDF version of every statement and store in two separate locations where you are confident you spouse does not have access.
- Identify Assets
You need to figure out how much money you have and your spouse has before taking any drastic measures. Additionally, you should clarify what is solely in your name, your spouse’s name, and held mutually. This relates to your mortgage, your bank account(s), your investment(s), your retirement account(s), and many other assets. The Court cares far more about proper records of your financial statements, than your spouse’s affair or drinking problem. Divorce with considerable assets is an issue of financial documentation and accounting, not who is at fault for divorce.
- Secure Liquid Assets
You are entitled to half the funds in marital accounts; therefore, you are entitled to withdrawing funds from mutual checking/savings accounts, so long as you do not take more than 50% of the account funds. You spouse may decide to not play by the rules / may not know the rules and liquidate your funds prior to you having the opportunity to secure your fair portion of these liquid funds. You CANNOT wipe any account clean; however, you can ensure you have enough to cover bills and retain an experienced Oklahoma family law attorney. Securing some of the martial liquid assets will give you security and confidence in your ability to move through your divorce with confidence, in your finances, if nothing else.
- Understand Oklahoma Divorce Laws
Oklahoma is a “equitable distribution” state, which is legalese for division of mutual marital property that was not acquired by gift, devise, bequest, or otherwise given to only one spouse. In Oklahoma, an equitable division state, a large amount of otherwise “marital property” may be determined separate property and not subject to division. It is important the Oklahoma divorce lawyer you hire is familiar with equitable distribution application to substantial assets, to ensure your rights and property interests are protected.
- Decide what you Want versus what you Need
When it comes to resolving what assets you want versus you need in your divorce case, it is essential to understand the new lifestyle you will lead and identify your long-term needs in division of your assets. You cannot know what you want to settle your divorce case for, until you know what you must take out of your divorce. You can begin this analysis by looking at what your monthly finances and lifestyle require and what you will need to maintain the lifestyle you want to go forward.
Contact – Cannon & Associates: Oklahoma Fierce Advocates for Divorce Clients
At Cannon & Associates, our attorneys understand that divorce can be messy. We are here to help you to navigate the complex world of divorce and family law while protecting your rights and interests. Contact Cannon & Associates by completing the CONTACT FORM ON THIS PAGE NOW or CALL at 405-657-2323 for a free confidential strategy session on your case.