If My Spouse Now Wants a Divorce, What Should I Do Right Away to Protect Myself Financially?
As attorneys who work in family law here in Florida, one of the most important services that we provide to our clients is working to ensure that they walk away from their marriage (and divorce) feeling financially sound. One of the concerns that many have has to do with financial baggage that could carry over from their marriage; In particular, when one spouse has built up significant debts that could affect the other spouse.
Below, we discuss two important areas where there can sometimes be confusion, but which are very important in terms of safeguarding yourself and your ability to move on while remaining financially stable:
Federal Laws Versus The Divorce Decree
It is crucial to understand that certain debts that are incurred during marriage can be split amongst both partners, regardless of who incurred them. If, for example, a couple filed a joint federal income tax return and there is still a significant amount of money due from when they were married, even if a divorce decree dictates that the other spouse is not responsible for these taxes (because they were not part of one spouse’s businesses, or were not otherwise involved in family finances, etc.), both spouses are still jointly and severally liable for the full amount of federal income tax liability for that year. This means that the IRS can collect this amount from either one of them – regardless of who incurred it and what the divorce decree states – because it is a federal agency and the divorce decree is governed by the state. As a result, this is something that your divorce attorney is going to want to address, as there are ways of obtaining relief from this liability; for example, by filing certain forms to claim innocent spouse relief.
Most Important Steps To Take Immediately To Protect Yourself Financially In Divorce
While it is of course difficult to focus on finances when you first realize you are going through a divorce, it is also crucial to take certain steps in order to ensure that you end up with a fair and equitable settlement, including the following:
- Make sure that you hire a good attorney who you are comfortable with, who is experienced in the area, and who places your personal and financial interests first
- You will also want to make sure that you monitor your credit reports and credit score in order to ensure that no one else is using your name to borrow funds
- You want to do whatever you can to prevent your spouse from running up large debts that you may be partially responsible for later on by closing accounts that your spouse has access to. Also get in touch with any financial institutions that house your investments and/or savings accounts and ensure that they will require two signatures for any withdrawals
- It can be helpful to create an inventory of all the various marital assets in order to help determine which ones are in your name and which ones are in your spouse’s name
Contact A Florida Divorce Lawyer Who Will Help Protect You Financially
The Arwani Law Firm offers comprehensive divorce representation, which includes prioritizing the protection of your financial interests and complex tax issues. Contact our Orlando family attorneys today for a free phone consultation to find out more.