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5 Ways to Protect Your Assets in a Wisconsin Divorce

 Posted on September 14, 2023 in Criminal Law

Waukesha family lawyerSometimes the division of property can be worked out between the divorcing spouses or through mediation before heading to court. This is referred to as a no-contest division of property. The court can then enter an order for that division, making the settlement of community property no longer an issue. In contrast, contested divorce is where complications in the divorce settlement begin to arise, especially when one spouse considers some assets as separate rather than marital.

Careful planning can help you protect your assets in a divorce before you even get married. The first thing you will want to do is consult a qualified Wisconsin lawyer for legal advice. It is important that you find an attorney who is experienced in handling asset protection cases.

What is Community Property?

Wisconsin is considered a community property state, meaning that all marital property should be divided equally. So any property, debt, or asset acquired during a marriage, except gifts and inheritance in most cases, is considered community property.

Protecting your assets before and after a Wisconsin divorce is a necessity. After all, you have earned those assets and would not wish to be left wanting when the dust of divorce settles. There are a few things you can do to preserve and protect the assets you consider separate from marital property.

Keep Your Financial Information Organized

Having access to your financial information will help you and your lawyer understand your financial situation and develop a plan to protect your assets. The information includes:

  • Income statements

  • Tax returns

  • Bank statements

  • Investment accounts

  • The value of property, cars, or jewelry you own

You can gather this information by requesting copies of your financial records from your employer, bank, and investment firm. You can also gather information about your assets by reviewing your tax returns and other financial documents.

It is important to keep this information in a safe place where your spouse cannot access it. You may want to consider creating a password-protected file on your computer or storing the information in a safe deposit box.

Write a Prenuptial Agreement

A prenuptial agreement, or marital property agreement, is a legal contract that is entered into by two people before they get married. The agreement typically specifies how assets will be divided in the event of a divorce. A marital property agreement must be in writing, signed by both parties, and provide full disclosure of assets and income.

Establish Separate Property

Separate property is property that you owned before you got married or property that you acquired during the marriage through inheritance or gift. Separate property is not usually subject to division in a divorce. However, gifts given between the spouses during marriage are generally divided equally. The co-mingling of inheritance or gifts, either intentionally or accidentally, can lead to the court considering the property as community property.

Open a Separate Bank Account

If you are concerned about your spouse accessing your money, you can open a separate bank account in your name only. You can also keep your money in a safe deposit box that only you have access to.

Understand that you should never hide money in anticipation of divorce. The Wisconsin state statutes require the complete disclosure of all assets. Keeping hidden assets can lead to a loss of credibility with the court, including additional legal fees.

Transfer Your Assets to a Trust

A trust is a legal entity that can own property. You can transfer assets to a trust before your marriage, and the trust can then distribute the assets to you or other beneficiaries. This can help to protect your assets from your spouse in the event of a divorce.

When creating a trust, it must be irrevocable and not benefit your spouse or else risk it becoming community property. Complications like these are where a great attorney shines.

Contact a Waukesha, WI Family Law Attorney

The attorneys at Bucher, Wolff & Sonderhouse, LLP have years of experience helping Wisconsin residents through the divorce process. We understand the challenges you are facing and believe that a good Waukesha County, WI property division lawyer can help you reach an amicable property division. We provide candid advice and an empathetic ear at 262-232-6699 to help you come up with a plan of action.

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