Three Ways to Ruin Your Divorce Settlement

In most contested divorce scenarios, each partner feels that he or she is in the right and that any settlement agreement should favor him or her. A family law judge will focus on hearing relevant information and making a fair judgment according to the facts of the case. Unfortunately, some divorcing adults take matters into their own hands hoping to find a way to guarantee that the judge favors them. When you or someone you know attempts to find a way to tip the scales in your favor, it is possible that you will instead find a way to completely ruin your divorce settlement.

Spying on Your Spouse

Television shows and movies often feature one spouse using technology to spy on a partner in order to obtain information to use against him or her in a divorce. Adults going through a divorce sometimes try to emulate what they have seen by spying on their spouse using computer programs, apps, or even professionals. The problem with spying on a spouse is that it can have legal consequences if not done correctly. Instead of obtaining irrefutable proof that your spouse is involved in wrong-doing, you could place yourself in the legal hot seat.

Hiding Assets

During the divorce process, both partners work with the attorneys and the judge to determine a divorce settlement that fairly divides assets. Some people do not have a clear idea of their personal property vs. marital property, leading them to attempt hiding assets that they do not feel should be shared. Attempting to hide money, property, or even lie about your income can all lead to extremely serious consequences. Not only will you have to share your assets with your spouse, the judge may penalize you by awarding your spouse a larger share. Also, hiding assets ruins your credibility, making it difficult for you or your attorney to convince the judge of anything in the future.

Oversharing on Social Media

The growth of the internet in general and social media specifically have changed the way information is gathered during divorces. Many attorneys have admitted to using social media to find out information about their clients’ spouses spending habits or parenting that was later used in court. A man or woman going through a divorce may feel tempted to use social media as a way to prove that life is continuing without issue by sharing pictures of outings, activities, or even using social media to insult his or her estranged spouse. All of these actions could lead to your social media activity being presented as evidence against you during your divorce hearings.  A woman who is claiming in court that her ex is leaving his children destitute may find herself  in an embarrassing bind if her ex’s lawyer presents pictures of her recent international vacation that was shared on social media.

Get Legal Help

Once you have decided to get a divorce, getting legal help immediately is the best way to protect your case. A divorce attorney can prevent you from making any serious blunders that could impact your ability to obtain a fair divorce settlement. The attorneys at Lawrence Law Office understand the difficulties of going through a contested divorce and we are here to give you the legal representation and advice you need to obtain the settlement you desire. Contact our conveniently located Columbus office today and schedule a consultation.

Should You Remain in Your Marital Home?

The family home is one piece of property over which a divorcing couple will often battle. In addition to the cash value of the home, the sentimental value may influence both party’s desire to keep the home. However, once the divorce is finalized and tempers have cooled, it is always a good idea to think about the pros and cons associated with maintaining your recently won residence. The decision to remain in the marital home after the divorce is over could significantly influence your personal and financial future.

Can You Afford it?

Affordability should be your primary concern when deciding if you should stay in your marital home after a divorce. Once the divorce is finalized, it is normal for an adult to be short on cash and overwhelmed by the responsibility of managing a household with only one income. If you were a stay-at-home parent who is awarded spousal support or a parent now receiving child support, your available funds are often finite and depend solely on whether or not your former spouse makes timely payments. Before committing to staying in your home, calculate how much money you will need to pay your mortgage, utilities, purchase necessities, and keep your household solvent without aid.

Are There Tax Benefits?

Owning a home usually means that you are able to receive multiple tax benefits that are not available to renters. After a divorce, the mortgage interest, property taxes, and other property-related tax write offs can be beneficial. If you decide to sell your home and move into an apartment or into a home with other friends or family, those potential tax benefits are lost.  Remember, a house is an asset that provides more tax benefits than most other purchases, and after your divorce, you will be the sole beneficiary of those tax perks.

What are the Alternatives?

The most important thing to ask yourself before initiating the sale of your house is what are the alternatives to living in your current home. Will you be able to afford another house? Will you need to move into an apartment? Though downgrading is usually a good way to save money, it is possible that the area you want to live in does not have any desirable properties that are less expensive than your current residence. The last thing you want to do is move into a less attractive residence that gives you no financial benefits.

Talk to an Attorney

Before making any choices regarding what assets you want to keep during a divorce based on your post-divorce plans, it is best to talk to an attorney. An equitable distribution attorney will help you review marital assets and decide what property is beneficial to you in the long run. The attorneys at Lawrence Law Office understand how overwhelming asset division is and we are prepared to help you make choices that will set you up for a comfortable future. Contact our conveniently located Columbus, Ohio office today to schedule a consultation so that we can discuss your needs.

Repercussions of Moving out of Your Marital Home

Once you or your spouse has decided to file for a divorce, living together may become uncomfortable. Regardless of the length of a marriage, it is difficult to adjust to sharing a home with a person who is no longer your legal spouse, especially if you are locked in a legal battle for assets or child custody. Leaving the marital home is often the choice one partner makes in order to keep the peace and avoid confrontations. While establishing a separate household gives you a way to get away from a spouse you can no longer tolerate, there are potential repercussions when you move out of your marital home before your divorce is complete.

Hurts Custody Requests

Ohio courts focus on making custody determinations that are in the best interest of the child.  Both parents can submit a parenting plan, and once the court reviews them, they can allocate time between both adults in the form of a shared parenting plan. However, if no parenting plan is submitted or either parent believes shared parenting is not in the best interest of their mutual children, the court may need to make a final determination. When the court is involved in deciding custody, a parent who has left the marital home, voluntarily reducing his or her own time spent with the children, will have a difficult time gain sole or primary custody.

Double the Expenses

Leaving your marital home does not automatically relieve you of financial obligations. If your name is on the mortgage, utility bills, or you were the primary income earner, you may still be responsible for paying expenses associated with your marital property. Moving out during your divorce could lead to you paying double the bills and, in some situations, you may have fewer financial resources available. Paying for a divorce attorney, bills in two households, temporary spousal support, and more can make you desperate to finalize the divorce even if the proposed settlement is not to your advantage.

Lose Access to Property

When an adult moves out of his or her marital home during a divorce, he or she rarely take all of his or her property. Unfortunately, once you leave the house, your spouse may take steps to restrict your future access to the property or dispose of items that are held jointly. It is possible to force your spouse into giving you access to a home that is owned jointly, and he or she can be held accountable for disposing of property without your permission, but both processes can be time consuming.  The last thing a person going through a contentious divorce wants to do is call the police to help regain entry to his or her home or realize too late that items with high monetary or sentimental value are permanently gone.

When to Contact an Attorney

If you or someone close to you is going through a divorce and considering moving out of a home shared with a spouse, it is important that legal advice is obtained prior to making a decision. The divorce attorneys at Lawrence Law Office are prepared to help you determine what choice is best for you and your unique situation. Contact us today to schedule a private consultation at our conveniently located Columbus, Ohio location.

Who Gets What: Dividing the Little Things

Courts are well versed in assisting couples in dividing their marital assets. There is law and substantial case law that informs how the marital home, automobiles, 401k plans, pensions, retirement accounts, bank accounts, businesses or business interests, and brokerage accounts get divided among the divorcing spouses. While a difficult process, the outcome is a fair distribution of the marital assets.

When it comes to the little things, however, the divorcing couple is on their own. Many attorneys draft clauses in the settlement agreement that the parties will divide all personal property or the little things on their own. Courts too often refuse to make decisions on the division of small items because it is time-consuming and the items themselves have little monetary value and are more emotionally valuable to the divorcing spouses than anything else.   

Sweating the Small Stuff: A Guide to Division of the Little Things

Let’s pretend that you and your soon to be ex-spouse share the same birthday. On your birthday, you receive ten gifts. None of them are labeled so you do not know which gift goes to which person. How do you divide the gifts? The scene quickly descends to chaos. The main reason all hell breaks loose is uncertainty. No one likes uncertainty. When it comes time to divide the personal items you and your spouse collected during your marriage, refer to these guidelines often – particularly when the process becomes overwhelming.

  • Keep in mind that the little things are not simple or trivial but laden with emotions.
  • Items and personal effects have different meanings to different people. Just because you think it is trash does not mean your spouse does not treasure the item.
  • Conflict will happen but it can be managed.
  • Doing nothing is not an option.
  • Limit personal contact. Emotional trauma and spite should be left out of the process entirely.
  • Give and take.
  • Ask your spouse what he or she wants ahead of time.

Create a Division System

Prior to dividing the little things, the divorcing couple should set up some rules and parameters on how items are to be selected, or a division system. The idea behind this is that if you buy into the process, you are more likely to buy into the outcome, even if you do not get everything that you want. If you stick to a system you both create then you will not tear each other apart when you try to divide the assets.

A Note on Spiteful Decisions

A woman in New York took two crystal chandelier fixtures when she moved out of the marital residence during her divorce proceedings. They were worth $300,000, and she sold them for $13,000. The judge in the matter was not happy with her behavior and ordered the value of the chandeliers to be deducted from the five million dollar lump sum payment she was owed under the prenuptial agreement. In the end, her spiteful actions only hurt her. If possible, leave emotional trauma and spite out of the distribution process entirely.

Contact an Experienced Family Law Attorney Today

If you or someone you know is struggling to divide assets with a soon-to-be ex spouse, we want to hear from you today. Do not hesitate to call the legal team at Lawrence Law Office at (614) 228 – 3664 for a consultation or email us using our website or lawrence@lawrencelawoffice.com.

Divorce and Life Insurance Policies

When the decision is made to dissolve a marriage, many factors must be accounted for. You and your spouse will have to determine the rights to assets owned prior to marriage, assets bought together during marriage, support rights, child custody if children are under 18 years old, as well as different policies and accounts you planned for together. If you and your spouse named one another in life insurance policies or for retirement savings accounts for the benefit of the other, there are additional steps you will need to take after the divorce decree was entered in order to have that policy apply to other interested parties.

Divorce Decrees

Once a divorce decree is entered in court, each spouse legally now has separate assets and rights that the other spouse no longer has any vested interest in. However, there are certain assets that must be changed by the spouses after the divorce that do not automatically terminate upon the dissolution of the marriage, such as life insurance policies and retirement accounts.

Life Insurance Policies

While your former spouse’s rights to your estate terminate upon the marriage ending, life insurance policies do not work the same way. When taking out a life insurance policy, it is common to name your spouse as the beneficiary and if you have children, your children in the event your spouse is also not alive. Once the divorce decree is final, it is important that you contact the provider of your life insurance policy in order to name a new beneficiary or your former spouse will be entitled to receiving your policy upon your death.

Some families who have minor children together will leave the former spouse as the beneficiary if the relationship is amicable, however, if it is not, you do not want the former spouse receiving proceeds after your death. Almost all life insurance policies are revocable, meaning you can alter them during your lifetime and change who will receive the policy in the event of your death. This is also an important consideration if you are entering into a second marriage. Amending the policy to name your new spouse is important because while a court will recognize your most recent marriage, they will not amend your life insurance policy in the event you failed to.

Considering a Divorce?

Divorce can be a highly stressful time and is something you should not go through alone. The experienced legal team at Lawrence Law Office will work with you to help you sort out what you deserve and make sure you get what you are entitled to. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us as (614) 228 – 3664 for a consultation or email us at lawrence@lawrencelawoffice.com.

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