If your spouse has always dealt with the finances for your family and is now seeking a divorce, then you may be worried about the state of your finances and how it may affect the dissolution of your marriage. This is one of the major concerns for many individuals and there are a few things that you should do if you are in the dark about your overall financial situation.
Collect Documents And Lock Accounts
It can be difficult to figure out where you should start when it comes to looking at finances and assessing your financial situation. You may need to evaluate documentation over the course of several years to understand assets, especially ones like retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and real estate investments that may not be so obvious. This is especially true if you do not even know if these things exist.
To assist with your evaluation, start collecting as much paperwork as possible. If you can, make copies of documents so you have your own records. Make sure the records include things like mortgage statements and tax records as these can show debts that you are unaware of. For example, mortgage statements may indicate a lien on the home or unpaid property tax.
Once you have all the documentation, reach out to a divorce attorney from a place like Begley Carlin & Mandio LLP to see if bank accounts and other financial accounts can be frozen until the divorce is finalized. Some accounts may automatically be frozen by the state. However, freezing is not automatic in every jurisdiction. In some cases, you may need to provide proof as to why you think the accounts need to be locked. Specifically, you will need to show evidence that you believe your spouse will spend money without your permission or knowledge. Your lawyer can assist you with this argument.
Hire A Forensic Accountant
If you believe that there are hidden financial assets or if you are simply having a hard time locating financial accounts for some reason, then hire a forensic accountant. This individual is a CPA who can acquire, analyze, and interpret financial information over a period of time. The professional can do this in anticipation of presenting the facts to the court in matters of dispute, like a divorce.
Forensic accountants are especially helpful in locating hidden assets or analyzing situations where money has gone missing or spent in some way. For example, if your spouse has liquidated the assets from a retirement account that you did not know existed, then the CPA can find evidence of this.
Forensic accountants are useful in cases where you and your spouse may try mediation and they can also help when you have decided that traditional divorce proceedings are wise. The information will give you a good starting point when it comes to figuring out how assets should be split.